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FAQs about the overtime and shift-trading ban

Why has JHL decided to launch an overtime and shift-trading ban as a means of political industrial action? This page provides answers to frequently asked questions (FAQs)

This page provides answers to frequently asked questions (FAQs) and is updated as necessary.

Why has JHL decided to launch an overtime and shift-trading ban as a means of political industrial action?

The actions of the Finnish government to worsen the conditions of wage earners and the unemployed have reached such proportions that JHL is, as part of a united front, demanding the restoration of the tripartite negotiation culture and demanding the government to withdraw its proposal that would weaken employees’ protection against dismissal in businesses employing a maximum of 10 people. This cannot continue and this must be stopped! We have had enough!

All employee members of JHL are obliged to adhere to the ban, and it applies to all sectors that have not been separately excluded from the ban. The actions do not concern office-holders or those who are in a service relationship. See a more detailed list (in Finnish).

What does an overtime ban mean?

Do not exceed your normal regular working hours. Do not work overtime or collect credits on your working time account. The ban applies to both daily and weekly overtime. Employees cannot commit to working overtime in an employment contract, but working overtime must be agreed on separately in each case. However, if you have agreed on working overtime before 25 September 2018, one pm, you can work overtime as agreed.

What does a shift-trading ban mean?

Work no more than the hours stated in the established duty roster.

What is overtime?

Overtime refers to hours of work done in excess of the maximum amount of regular working hours as referred to in the Working Hours Act. Hours of work done in excess of the regular working hours are considered overtime only if the work is carried out on the employer’s initiative and with the employer’s approval.

Working overtime also always requires the employee’s consent. Employees can only give their consent separately each time overtime is required. This means that employees cannot be required to work overtime, and that they cannot, in their employment contracts, commit to working overtime when needed.

Daily overtime refers to hours of work done in excess of the maximum regular daily working hours laid down in legislation. Weekly overtime refers to hours of work done in excess of the maximum regular weekly working hours laid down in legislation, but not exceeding the maximum regular daily working hours.

In period-based work, overtime refers to hours of work done in excess of the regular working hours of the working period, e.g. a two- or three-week period. This means that the accrual of overtime in period-based work can only be established at the end of the period.

For more information, contact your shop steward or regional office.

Do I have to take part in the industrial action?

JHL has as a union decided on initiating political industrial actions. The decision is a resolution made by the union’s administrative bodies, and it obliges all members. The decision does not concern those who are in a service relationship.

A collective refusal to work overtime is a legitimate act. Working overtime always requires the employee’s consent. For example, an employer cannot prevent employees from leaving their workplaces, threaten with measures or impose sanctions. If your employer tries to deny your participation in the overtime ban or if you are subject to threats or inappropriate behaviour, contact your shop steward. If your workplace lacks a shop steward, contact your regional office.

Who has to participate?

All members who are in an employment relationship. Those who are in a service relationship cannot participate. See a more detailed list (in Finnish).

How about student members?

Student members in an employment relationship are covered by the overtime and shift-trading ban.

Does the ban apply to chief shop stewards, shop stewards and occupational safety and health representatives?

Yes, it does.

Does the ban apply to those in supervisory positions?

Yes, it does.

Can an employer unilaterally alter the duty roster?

Duty rosters must be made known to employees in writing at least a week before the start of the period the roster concerns. After this, the employer can only alter the duty roster for a justifiable reason. In the union’s various agreement sectors, the justification for altering duty rosters for operational reasons may vary. The employer’s right to direct cannot be used as a justification for unilaterally altering the duty roster. For example, the falling ill of an individual employee or the variation in the number of children present in a day-care centre are not automatically a justifiable reason for altering an established duty roster. In terms of its scale, a justifiable reason is a significant, unforeseen event for which the employer cannot prepare in advance, such as the sudden falling ill of half of the staff. The employer has no right to unilaterally extend a shift after it has started. In unclear situations, you can ask your shop steward or regional office for advice.

However, if your employer unilaterally alters your duty roster or wants you to extend your shift, you can ask your employer to fill in the attached printable form (in finnish)

Työnantajan määräys työvuoron jatkamisesta (pdf, 70 KB)

By asking your employer to fill in the form, you can ensure that your employer gives the order in writing and in a demonstrable way. It is important that the employer provides an accurately specified justifiable reason for altering the duty roster. If you have received the order, including justification, as an email or SMS message or similar, you do not need to ask your employer to fill in the form.

You can submit the forms to your shop steward or regional office to be kept for any future reference.

Can I work a shift that has been agreed upon earlier but that has not been recorded in the duty roster?

Yes, you can.

I have agreed on stand-by in my employment contract. Can I refuse?

If the hours of work to be done during stand-by are overtime, they cannot be done. If stand-by has been agreed on earlier, the employee or shop steward must inform the employer that, in accordance with the union’s decisions, no tasks relating to stand-by can be performed as overtime work. On-call duty work is carried out by receiving telephone calls and failure reports. The actual work will be started at the start of regular working hours when the next shift arrives at the workplace. Duty rosters must not be altered by local agreements or by agreements made with the employee or the shop steward.

Can I carry out additional work during the overtime and shift-trading ban?

If you have agreed on carrying out additional work in your employment contract, you cannot refuse to carry out additional work during the overtime and shift-trading ban. The overtime ban also applies to the overtime of part-time employees.
Additional work is not covered by the ban. Employees working full hours can only carry out additional work during periods with midweek holidays. Part-time employees can carry out additional work up to the full working hours. It is left to their discretion whether to carry out additional work if requested.

Can the employer transfer me to work a shift in another unit during the overtime and shift-trading ban?

The shift-trading ban does not concern changes in work locations or tasks. If the start and end times of the shift remain the same, you can work a shift in another unit. Work locations are usually agreed on quite broadly in employment contracts, e.g. units within a specified area. This means that the employer can transfer the employee to work in another unit.

What if situations threatening life or health develop?

The overtime and shift-trading ban will not generally lead to situations threatening life or health. However, shop stewards can negotiate with employers in advance to exclude tasks and/or units from the ban if necessary.

What if the employer makes me carry out emergency work?

If your employer makes you carry out emergency work during the overtime and shift-trading ban, it is advised that you act in accordance with the employer’s orders if the employer invokes the emergency work provisions of the Working Hours Act. In such cases, you must contact the JHL shop steward or regional office and also inform your employer of this. Shop stewards must inform the union of the matter and ensure that the employer has submitted reports to the labour protection authorities as required in the Working Hours Act. Even if the employer’s interpretation of emergency work were to be incorrect, an individual employee is advised to obey the employer’s orders so as to avoid unreasonable personal consequences, and submit the matter to the union for examination. It is important that the union is notified of such cases. We will also contact the relevant Regional State Administrative Agency to ensure that we will have the reports made by the employer for examination.

It is expected that some employers will react to the overtime and shift-trading ban by applying the emergency work provisions of the Working Hours Act. Making employees carry out emergency work is allowed only in the exceptional circumstances specified in the Working Hours Act. All of the conditions set for emergency work must be met if such work is required to be carried out.

The overtime and shift-trading ban in itself does not constitute an unexpected event as referred to in the Working Hours Act. Therefore, it is most evident that the conditions set for emergency work will not be met during the overtime and shift-trading ban.

More information on emergency work is available at the website of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. (linkki)

Can I use flexi-time during the overtime and shift-trading ban?

In flexible working hours arrangements, you decide on the placement of your working hours within the agreed limits yourself. You can decide on the length of your working day even during the overtime ban. Employees are obliged to be at work during the fixed core period only. Employers cannot require employees to work longer hours in the flexible working hours arrangement. Employees can work overtime even in flexible working hours arrangements, but this requires an order/request to work overtime by the supervisor and the employee’s consent. The overtime ban also applies to such situations. This means that you can use your credits, but do not collect credits on your working time account!

The employer has prepared a duty roster that, however, is not generally adhered to; instead employees themselves record the actual hours of work performed each week. Do I have to work the hours stated in the duty roster during the overtime and shift-trading ban? Or can I alter the daily working hours if I ensure that the regular working hours are not exceeded?

A duty roster must be published at least a week before the start of the period and employees must be able to count on the fact that the shifts will be carried out as planned and that the working hours will start and end as planned.

Can I trade shifts with my colleague even during the shift-trading ban?

The shift-trading ban only applies to shift-trading required by the employer. It is possible that the employer will prevent shift-trading by employees on their own initiative as a countermeasure to the overtime and shift-trading ban. It is a countermeasure by the employer and in this case illegal. In such cases, contact your shop steward and/or regional office.