Nearly 20,000 posted workers in Finland – shortcomings addressed by inspections of posting companies and contractors
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In 2021, occupational safety and health inspectors carried out more than 200 inspections on companies that posted workers to Finland or are contractors of companies that post workers in Finland. Inspections were carried out as part of the supervision of the use of foreign labour in all five Occupational Safety and Health Divisions of the Regional State Administrative Agency. The number of inspections increased significantly from the 113 inspections carried out last year.
Posting workers means that a foreign undertaking sends an employee to work in Finland temporarily when the undertaking has agreed to provide services in Finland. The habitual place of employment of a posted worker is some other country than Finland. The legal basis for posting is in EU legislation, which is laid down in the Finnish Act on Posting Workers (447/2016). The aim is to ensure the protection of posted workers during their posting.
A posting undertaking has to notify the occupational safety and health authority when they post workers to Finland. These notifications provide information on the extent of the phenomenon, among other things. Last year, a total of 10,003 posting notifications were submitted from 57 different countries, concerning nearly 20,000 employees. The three major countries of origin were Estonia, Germany and Poland according to the notifications.
Shortcomings in the pay of posted workers
Inspections concerning posted workers are aimed at foreign employers who send their employees to work in Finland and at companies that are contractors of posting undertakings. A total of 238 inspections were carried out last year. Most of the inspections focused on the construction and industrial sectors where there is the greatest amount of posted workers.
The majority of discovered shortcomings related to workers’ pay. At minimum, posted workers’ pay in Finland should comply with the applicable collective agreement. The legality of pay was covered by 85 inspections, 43 of which issued written advice on correcting workers’ pay. “We see the same shortcomings year after year”, says Head of Unit Anna Pärtty from the Occupational Safety and Health Division of the Regional State Administrative Agency for Southwestern Finland. “It’s probably due to turnover in the employers being inspected, and the employers who receive a lot of negative feedback don’t post their workers in Finland again. Still, some posting undertakings do fix their procedures.”
More negligence fees than before
The Act on Posting Workers provides for a negligence fee for the posting undertaking if it neglects certain obligations laid down in the same act. These obligations include submitting a notification of the posting, appointing a representative in Finland and keeping certain information available. The most fees concerned the fact that no notification of the posting of workers had been made. The total amount of fees imposed so far was EUR 149,000 last year, compared with EUR 99,500 in 2020. It should be noted that some of the processes started in 2021 are still in progress as regards the imposition of the fee.
More than half of contractors received written advice
Inspected contractors mainly consisted of Finnish companies with a subcontractor or contracting partner who posted workers for the contractor in Finland. In more than half of these inspections, the occupational safety and health inspector issued written advice after noticing something to correct in the contractor’s operations. The most common cause of issuing written advice was the contractor’s obligation to ensure that the contracting partner has submitted a notification of the posting of workers.
Contact authority gives advice and submits reports
The Occupational Safety and Health Division of the Regional State Administrative Agency for Southwestern Finland acts as the contact authority for providing general advice on the legislation applicable to posting in Finland. The contact authority’s tasks also include making an annual compilation of the supervision measures and notifications that concern posting.