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Coronavirus: Teaching during the state of emergency

How does the coronavirus affect the work of teachers and other OAJ members? We have put together a list of answers to your questions and concerns.

Teaching during the state of emergency

The Ministry of Education and Culture’s website contains information about the special arrangements and answers some frequently asked questions. The Finnish National Agency for Education shares tips and instructions for both teachers and education organisers. Also the Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare's website contains information, questions and answers about covid-19 and working conditions.

The Ministry of Education and Culture’s website about the coronavirus (Fi)Tips and instructions by the Finnish National Agency for Education (FI)The Finnish Institute for Health and welfare

Safety comes first!

Finland has declared a state of emergency in order to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. The Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare THL provides information about the progress of the situation and the Centre for Occupational Safety instructs workplaces regarding the prevention of the coronavirus.
THL’s pages about the coronavirus situationInstructions by the Centre for Occupational Safety


Children in early childhood education and care and in primary and lower secondary school will return to contact teaching on Thursday 14 May. The Government decided to lift the restrictions on early childhood education and care and on primary and lower secondary education on 29 April. 

OAJ demands that the work in daycare centres be safe and that the riskgroups are taken into account.

Check these websites for information: 

The Finnish Governments news and instructions about commencing contact teaching (FI)The Finnish National Agency for Education 

 

Commencing contact teaching during covid-19

OAJ answers to its' members questions concerning teaching during covid-19. More information is available in Finnish. A part of it will be translated in English. 

Children in early childhood education and care and in primary and lower secondary school will return to contact teaching on Thursday 14 May. The Government decided to lift the restrictions on early childhood education and care and on primary and lower secondary education. Can the employer order teachers to work although there is a risk of covid-19? 

Due to covernment's decision of commencing contact teaching, distance teaching is not possible.  Teachers have to return to schools and commence working. 

What arrangements should be made in early childhood education and care and in primary and lower secondary education to ensure that adequate distances will be kept during meals, break times and in other situations?

The Ministry of Education has given guidelines concerning the return to contact teaching in early childhood education and care and in primary and lower secondary education. Since the Emergency Powers Act is no longer applicable to schools, municipalities must again provide early childhood education and school education and resume the provision that was in place before the exceptional arrangements. However, the authorities have issued instructions for the safe provision of early childhood education and care and school education that must be followed.

Situations in which people are in direct contact with one another are to be avoided in schools and early childhood education and care. For example, break times can be staggered. 

Arrange school meals individually with the students’ own class or group; no joint meals in the lunchroom. Ensure proper hygiene when preparing and distributing food as well as during school meals.

The education provider will issue more detailed instructions on practical arrangements to meet the needs of each school.

1. Establishing a coronavirus team

The organisers of education and early childhood education must establish an occupational health and safety team that has the responsibility for coordinating the return to work, related especially to the prevention of the coronavirus in schools and day care centres. The team is responsible for ensuring that the staff of the educational unit receives information about the coronavirus situation, that the preparedness plan is kept up to date and that additional instructions are provided, if necessary.

It is important that a team oversees the adherence to occupational health and safety instructions at each school and day care centre and reports any potential detected defects to the organiser of education or early childhood education.

2. Persons belonging to a risk group

Before opening the schools and broadening early childhood education, the employer must map out whether there are staff members who belong to a risk group. The employer must draw up instructions together with occupational health care regarding how to proceed with the staff members who belong to a risk group.

3. Hand hygiene

The health and safety representative must be informed about how hand hygiene has been taken care of in schools and day care centres according to the authority instructions and recommendations (when arriving to and leaving from school, before lunch, when entering the building and after coughing).

4. Personal protective equipment

The staff members of schools and day care centres have the right to use personal protective equipment, such as masks and gloves, if they wish to do so.

5. Safety distance

The organiser of education or early childhood education must determine how teaching and early childhood education is carried out with sufficient safety distance. Instructions regarding solutions related to having enough space and maintaining the safety distance must be provided in the following situations: providing contact teaching, leaving for breaks and the related dressing in outdoor clothing, breaks, lunch breaks, changing classes or groups during the school day and transport to and from school.

The organisers of education and early childhood education must instruct the children’s guardians and other potential visitors to avoid entering the school or day care centre area. The dropping off and picking up of children must be organised in the outdoor areas of the educational institution.

6. Use restrictions of teaching facilities

Instructions must be provided at schools and early childhood education institutions regarding organising teaching in a way that there are fewer students present at the same time and that teaching groups are kept separated throughout the school day.

If this is not possible, instructions for implementing the safety distances required by the authorities and staggering teaching must be provided. The number of teaching hours in accordance with the distribution of lesson hours must not be departed from.

7. Psychosocial strain

The employer must ensure enough support for superiors and staff members in a psychosocially stressful situation.

8. Spread of the coronavirus

The organisers of education and early childhood education must instruct schools and day care centres with regard to how to proceed in situations with suspected or discovered coronavirus infections.

9. Cleaning

The employer must ensure enough cleaning staff members at the schools and day care centres.

 

Children in early childhood education and care and in primary and lower secondary school returned to contact teaching on Thursday 14 May. The Government decided to lift the restrictions on early childhood education and care and on primary and lower secondary education on 29 April. 

OAJ demands that the work in daycare centres be safe and that the riskgroups are taken into account.

Check these websites for information: 

The Finnish Governments news and instructions about commencing contact teaching (FI)The Finnish National Agency for Education  

I work as a director of a public early childhood education unit. We have been instructed to have our phones on during weekends as well and to be available at all times. There have been no mentions about any kind of compensation. I understand the requirement for this during such a difficult time, but is it fair to obligate employees to be continuously available without offering them any compensation?

The employer cannot obligate day care unit directors to be continuously available. Despite the director being an office-holder, work duties are only carried out during regular working hours unless the parties have agreed about overtime.

A director of a day care centre can be ordered to be on stand-by. Being on stand-by means that the employee must be available during certain agreed times and be ready to take on work duties within an agreed amount of time. If being on stand-by is absolutely necessary for the quality of work and for imperative reasons, the director of a day care centre, being a civil servant, is not allowed to refuse to be on stand-by.

It is the employer’s responsibility to investigate how much stand-by time there is and take into account the strain caused by being on stand-by. No one can be ordered to be continuously on stand-by.

The employer cannot obligate anyone to be on stand-by without compensation. If the parties have not agreed on stand-by compensation, it is recommended to contact the local employee representative.

An employee cannot be ordered to be on stand-by in the middle of their weekly time off without their consent.

The criteria below must be met regarding being on stand-by:

  1. employers must seek to provide the 35 hours of uninterrupted time off in connection to Sundays, if possible,
  2. it must be ensured that the director of the day care centre has at least 11 hours of uninterrupted rest time during every 24-hour period following the beginning of a work shift.

When agreeing about being on stand-by, the amount of stand-by compensation, reasons for being on stand-by and the conditions of being on stand-by must be known in advance.

When agreeing about stand-by work, the following instructions must be adhered to:

  • First, the employee’s stand-by, the related instructions and stand-by compensation in line with the collective agreement for employees and civil servants must be agreed.
  • After this, the hours the employee must be available outside of their regular working hours in order to, for example, answer calls from their colleagues or customers must be agreed.

If being on stand-by is continuously required in some situation, the employer must agree with several employees about rotating the stand-by shifts in order to ensure that one single employee will not become overly stressed and that they will have enough free time both on weekdays and weekends.

If the person on stand-by receives telephone calls, answering these calls constitutes remunerated overtime because during the phone calls, the employee is working outside of their regular working hours and is therefore not on stand-by. Reading e-mails, text messages and voice messages is also regarded as work.

An employee may be on stand-by during their daily period of rest. If the daily period of rest and stand-by time overlap and the employee is contacted in the middle of their daily period of rest, the daily period of rest is interrupted by work. In such a case, the employee must be compensated for the lost period of rest.

The amount of time to be compensated is the duration of the missed period of rest interrupted by the contact and the related work required. The period of rest must be compensated during a time when the employee is not required to be on stand-by.

The Finnish Government recommends that all social contact be minimised. As the director of a day care unit, I have the right to work remotely and even have a remote work contract. Therefore, I feel that during the state of emergency, it is possible for me to do my work remotely. However, the city has ordered the directors of day care units to carry out their work in the workplace. Why is that?

According to the definition by the Finnish Government, the employees of early childhood education belong in sectors critical to the functioning of society. Among other things, this means that early childhood education has a significant role in the functioning of our society. In this context, belonging to a critical sector does not mean belonging to a risk group.

The employer’s right to direct means that they have the power to decide where employees carry out their work. This means that employees do not have a subjective right for remote work and carrying out work remotely should be separately agreed with the employer. Even if you have a previously made agreement about remote work, in this situation, the employer may order you to carry out your work at the workplace.

Due to the unusual situation, the employer may see that the director’s presence at the workplace supports the early childhood education staff members, strengthens the communal spirit in the workplace and enables quick reacting to surprising situations and potential instructions from the authorities.

Will the teachers who continue contact teaching be tested for the coronavirus if they have suitable symptoms?

The health care authorities will decide who will be tested for the coronavirus. The Finnish Government has decided to increase testing, but at the moment we don’t have the information regarding how testing will be increased.

I am an early childhood education teacher and the parent of a child going to primary school and belonging to a risk group. How can I protect my child from the infection risk when I am obligated to work in close contact to other people?

Unfortunately, in this very difficult situation, the only possibilities enabled by the law are either to ask your employer for an opportunity to work remotely or to be absent from work without pay.

It is recommended to express your worries about your child’s health to your employer and ask them for an opportunity to work remotely. If it is not possible to work remotely, the employer may obligate the early childhood education teacher to carry out their work at the workplace.

An employee may be absent from work due to compelling family reasons in line with the Employment Contracts Act. There is no remuneration for this kind of absence. The employee must inform their employer about their absence and the reason for the absence as quickly as possible. Upon the employer’s request, the employee must present the employer with a reliable explanation about the reason for their absence.

How are early childhood education employees protected in the workplace? Are we provided with protective equipment?

The safety of early childhood education employees must be looked after appropriately. The employer is responsible for the teachers’ safety during the workday in the situation of an unusual epidemic as well.

During the state of emergency related to the coronavirus epidemic, early childhood education employees are recommended to ask their employer for the necessary protective equipment so that they can carry out their work as safely as possible.

This is what the website of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration of Finland says about measures an employer should take on the basis of the risk assessment

In the coronavirus situation, the primary measure to prevent worker exposures is to avoid human contact. The employer shall assess the need for workers to arrive at the workplace from the point of view of the workers' health. One way to avoid contact is to work remotely; if it is impossible, the workplace conditions shall be organized to minimize the risk of exposure. These measures may include enhanced cleaning, hygiene instructions for employees, use of protective screens to prevent drip infections, guidelines for workers to avoid exposure to corona, and advice on situations where exposure or illness is suspected, and various shift arrangements. Another recommended measure is to avoid unnecessary gatherings in breakrooms in the workplace.

If there is a significantly increased risk of infection, for example in work involving continuous human contact, personal protective equipment such as breathing protection, gloves, goggles and, if necessary, protective clothing shall be used. Maintenance, cleaning, and replacement of personal protective equipment must be maintained at all times.

Source: Työsuojelu.fi

If working causes concerns regarding occupational safety, the matter should be discussed with a supervisor. In addition, a teacher may turn to the health and safety representative of their workplace for advice.

How it is ensured that we, early childhood education teachers, do not fall ill with the coronavirus or transmit the virus at our workplaces? Is OAJ advocating our access to coronavirus testing?

It is the responsibility of the employer to take care of health and safety of the working conditions.

The occupational health care service is responsible for giving instructions on measures to prevent coronavirus infections at work.

The Finnish government has decided to increase the corona virus testing capacity in Finland. The OAJ considers it important that also early childhood education teachers would be tested for corona.

I am an early childhood education teacher. If I have symptoms of the coronavirus, should I spend two weeks in quarantine or should I return to work in a few days if the symptoms allow, even though I might still carry the virus?

According to the instructions during the coronavirus epidemic, you should be absent from work if you are even slightly ill. The employer and the occupational health care will provide more specific instructions regarding sickness absences and potential quarantines.

I work as an early childhood education teacher in a private day care centre and my employer is planning on laying me off. What should I do?

At the moment, the coronavirus is heavily impacting the operations of private day care centres. Some of the employers have initiated preparations for temporary layoffs.

Temporary layoffs refer to a situation where the carrying out of work and payment of salaries is interrupted indefinitely or for a determined period of time without ending the employment relationship. Laying off an employee temporarily must be done on grounds in line with the Employment Contracts Act. These are always a temporary measure.

Do not agree to a 'voluntary' layoff
Sometimes the employers try to avoid making difficult decisions regarding layoffs and use misleading notions in order to make the employee waive his or her rights for the benefit of the employer. This kind of management is wrong, unethical and condemnable.

The employer might use terms like voluntary layoff, holiday saving or such. The law does not recognise these. These terms mean leave of absence without pay or a layoff.

Do not agree to the interruption of salary payments without being temporarily laid off! If you do, you may lose your right to unemployment benefit.

Cooperation representative at the workplace
If the day care centre teachers belonging to OAJ have not elected an employee representative to represent them in accordance with the Act on Co-operation within Undertakings, they can elect a co-operation representative for the temporary layoff negotiations announced by the employer. The teachers’ co-operation representative represents them during the temporary layoff negotiations and receives instructions and guidance from the OAJ.

During the negotiations, the employers usually want to proceed fast and make quick decisions, but you should not engage in the haste and hurry.

It is important for the co-operation representatives to carefully listen to what the employer presents and to take notes of the negotiation. If something is not clear, request more information. You should not accept anything that you are not sure about.

The personnel representatives should demand that the employer keeps minutes about the negotiations from the very start of the negotiations. During co-operation negotiations, it is recommended to record all differing opinions and viewpoints in the minutes.

Sign up as a representative for kindergarten teachers at your workplace!
Send your contact details to timo.maki@oaj.fi for further information and help.

Also get to know the section Covid-19 and temporary layoffs. 

In Oulu, the early childhood education employees and parents have been instructed that it is OK to bring a child with a small cold to the day care centre during the coronavirus epidemic. What is OAJ’s viewpoint of this?

According to OAJ, municipalities must act according to the Government’s policy. Social contact should be avoided as much as possible.

According to the Occupational Safety and Health Act, the employer is responsible for ensuring the safety of the employees’ work environment. The employer must perform a danger assessment in all day care units and evaluate the potential health and safety risks caused by children with a small cold being brought to the day care unit.

The employer must also acknowledge the fact that some of the employees may belong to risk groups.

It would be important to ask for the city’s health and safety representative to come and assess the issue and the instructions provided by the city. The Regional State Administrative Agencies may be contacted, if necessary.

The Government has implemented the opportunity provided for by the Emergency Powers Act of diverging from the regulations of the Working Hours Act and Annual Holidays Act. Does this apply to personnel of the education sector?

The Finnish Government’s policy may be applied to personnel working in the health care, social work, rescue, emergency centre and police operations sectors. These powers cannot be applied to civil servants and employees working in the education sector.

Can the workplace’s health and safety representative or employee representative send an employee with symptoms of a cold home? 

The instructions during the coronavirus situation are that a person with symptoms cannot go to work even if the symptoms are mild.

The health and safety representative can send an employee with symptoms of a cold home under certain conditions.  According to the Act on Occupational Safety and Health Enforcement, the health and safety representative has the right to discontinue work that poses an immediate and serious danger. The situation may be as described if the symptoms are clearly indicative of the coronavirus and the person works in contact with other employees.

The health and safety representative must notify the employer of the discontinuation of work. The person who is ill must be advised to leave the workplace and contact the occupational health care or public health care. When you suspect you may have the coronavirus, never go directly to a clinic or healthcare services. 

The employee representative does not have a similar right to discontinue work based on legislation but the employee representative can recommend an ill employee goes home, as can other employees at the workplace. 

I am concerned about many cities’ policies of shutting down daycare centres and combining them into larger groups. My employer shut down our early childhood education unit and moved us into another building. Now, there are 13 children under the age of three and six educators in the same group. Is the employer fulfilling its requirement of taking care of the health of its employees?

It is in everyone’s best interests that there are as few children as possible in daycare centres during the epidemic. This is why also employers must ensure that the number of children in a group is as small as possible. As a result, in the current situation, groups should never be merged for any reason.

The risk of spreading the coronavirus can be diminished by restricting social contacts and not changing the children or adults in the group as situations change. This protects the daycare centre’s personnel, children and their guardians from infection. This also ensures that those who work in professions critical for society can work and not too many of them will fall ill at the same time.

OAJ thinks it is important that municipalities or other parties organising daycare services do not start to merge units or groups in this situation. We have expressed our view and we hope that all employers understand our message as soon as possible.

We have been in touch with decision-makers and we hope that the Government will express a clear policy on the merging of early childhood education groups so that municipalities cannot interpret it as they see fit.

When does the employer have to decide the time of an employee’s summer holidays at the very latest?

The employer must hear the employee before confirming the time of their annual leave. When the employer decides on the time of an employee’s annual leave, they must inform the employee or civil servant about the time of their annual leave at least one month before the beginning of the leave period and, only in exceptional situations, at the latest two weeks before the beginning of the holiday or the beginning of a part of the holiday.

As an absolute rule, there must be a one-month notice period when notifying an employee or civil servant about their summer holiday. For example, if the employee’s summer holiday starts at the beginning of May, the employee must be notified at the latest by the end of March. The summer holiday is always taken over a continuous period unless otherwise agreed by the employee and the employer. In order to ensure the continuation of work, the employer has the right to divide the part of the employee’s summer holiday exceeding 10 annual leave days into one or more parts.

The employer’s unilateral right to divide the employee’s summer holiday into parts can only be exercised in exceptional situations.

The employer cannot unilaterally change the confirmed time of an employee’s annual leave. The employee never has to cut their holiday short. The state of emergency caused by the coronavirus does not impact the notification and confirmation processes related to annual leave.

Teachers of the universities of applied sciences may be ordered into care work while the provisions under the Emergency Powers Act are in force. This will cause a loss of salary for teachers. How will this be compensated? Will the universities of applied sciences take part in solving these questions? And who will teach the students?

While the provisions under the Emergency Powers Act are in force, the TE Office may issue a work order to a person with an obligation to work. Issuing a work order does not require consent from the person with an obligation to work. A criminal sanction can be imposed on a person intentionally or negligently not complying with the obligation.

The work order is issued for a maximum of two weeks at a time and may be renewed once. If a teacher is issued with a work obligation, they are in an employment relationship with the employer under whose management and supervision the TE Office has ordered them.

The conditions of the employment relationship, such as salary and working time, will be determined by the work duty in question. If a teacher under the obligation to work is ordered to work during their summer holiday or period of leave, the teacher is entitled to remuneration for the work carried out in addition to their regular teacher’s salary.

During the employment relationship, the employee’s or civil servant’s interrupted employment relationship will continue without interruption.

It is the educational institution’s responsibility to decide how the teaching and directing of students will be organised during the teacher’s potential work order.

 

Can teaching be arranged remotely for basic education in arts, adult education centres and other free education work?

Yes – there are no categorical obstacles for this. The Ministry of Education and Culture states in its instructions that basic education in arts, for example, is recommended to be organised using alternative arrangements that replace contact teaching, such as in distance learning or by using different kinds of digital leaning environments.

According to the Local government employers’ instructions for education organisers, if it is possible to arrange teaching over remote arrangements during exceptional circumstances, the education organiser may do so.


How will an adult education centre teacher with an employment relationship be remunerated for the loss of earnings now that part of the teaching is cancelled? How about basic education in arts and the class teachers’ salary payment?

Your employer should primarily offer you the opportunity to carry on teaching remotely and thereby keep your teaching hours and receive your salary.

If this is not possible (for example, due to the content of the taught course) and you are prevented from working, an employee in an employment relationship is entitled to remuneration for at least 14 days. After this period of time, the employer is not obliged to pay remuneration.

If you are prevented from teaching altogether, register as an unemployed jobseeker at the TE Services immediately after your first classes are cancelled. You must submit an employer certificate stating that you are prevented from working to the TE Services. The Teachers' Unemployment Fund website contains more detailed instructions.

If you have previously received an adjusted unemployment benefit, you must act according to the instructions provided by the unemployment fund.


The Government has implemented the opportunity provided for by the Emergency Powers Act of diverging from the regulations of the Working Hours Act and Annual Holidays Act. Does this apply to personnel of the education sector?

The Finnish Government’s policy may be applied to personnel working in the health care, social work, rescue, emergency centre and police operations sectors. These powers cannot be applied to civil servants and employees working in the education sector.

In this situation, is it required for teachers to make a separate agreement regarding remote work?
There is no need for teachers to make a separate agreement regarding remote work. Education work continues according to normal working hours and normal salary.

What does a layoff mean?

Temporary layoffs refer to a situation where the carrying out of work and payment of salaries is interrupted indefinitely or for a fixed term while the employment relationship remains valid.

Where do I find information on layoffs in public sector?

There is information about layoffs in Finnish in OAJ:n työelämäopas

What should I do if I am temporarily laid off?

OAJ members can apply for earnings-related daily allowance from the Teachers' Unemployment Fund for the duration of their layoff.

If you are being temporarily laid off, you must register as an unemployed job-seeker at TE Services latest on your first layoff day. You can apply for earnings-related daily allowance after two weeks have passed since the beginning of your temporary layoff.

If your temporary layoff period lasts for less than two weeks, you should apply for the earnings-related daily allowance earliest on the final day of your layoff period.

Also familiarise yourself with the section Covid-19 and early childhood education.

What does a layoff mean?

Temporary layoffs refer to a situation where the carrying out of work and payment of salaries is interrupted indefinitely or for a fixed term while the employment relationship remains valid.

Employee layoffs in companies in the private sector have been made easier for a fixed term from the 1st of April 2020 until the 30th of June 2020

Laying off employees during the financial crisis caused by the coronavirus has been made easier for companies in the private sector by amendments to the Employment Contracts Act and the Act on Co-operation within Undertakings.

These legal amendments related to the state of emergency are valid for a fixed term from the 1st of April 2020 until the 30th of June 2020. Only employers with at least 20 employees are required to comply with the Act on Co-operation within Undertakings.

Grounds for layoffs must be in accordance with the Employment Contracts Act

Temporary layoffs refer to a situation where the carrying out of work and payment of salaries is interrupted indefinitely or for a fixed term while the employment relationship remains valid.

Laying off an employee temporarily must be done on grounds in line with the Employment Contracts Act. In other words, the amount of work must be essentially and permanently reduced.

In case of a fixed-term layoff, the amount of work must be reduced temporarily for at least 90 days.

Layoff procedure during the state of emergency
  • In accordance with the Act on Co-operation within Undertakings the minimum negotiation period for an employer (with at least 20 employees) is 5 days.
  • An employer with less than 20 employees must provide an advance explanation of the layoff to the employees and consult them before making a decision regarding the layoffs.
  • The right to lay off also concerns employees in a fixed-term employment relationship.
Temporary layoff notice period

After a temporary layoff decision, the employer must give the employee a temporary layoff notice in person.

In the state of emergency, the temporary layoff notice period is five days in private daycare centres and institutes organised under Avaintyönantajat Avainta’s collective agreement. Other private institutes are to comply with the temporary layoff notice period specified in the collective agreement (14 days).

The employee receives a normal salary for the temporary layoff notice period.

I work in a private daycare centre and my workplace is planning temporary layoffs. What should I know about it?

At the moment, the state of emergency caused by the coronavirus is heavily impacting the operations of private daycare centres. Many employers have started statutory co-operation negotiations aimed at making temporary layoffs.

Temporary layoffs refer to a situation where the execution of work and payment of salaries are interrupted indefinitely or for a determined period of time without ending the employment relationship. These are always temporary measures. Laying off an employee temporarily must be done on grounds in line with the Employment Contracts Act. 

Do not agree to a “voluntary” temporary layoff
Sometimes employers try to avoid making unpleasant temporary layoff decisions and come up with confusing concepts for employees giving up their rights to the benefit of the employer. Such actions from the employer are unethical and reprehensible.

Employers might speak of “voluntary temporary layoffs”, “carried-over holidays” or “hero holidays”. These concepts are not included in the legislation: they all mean unpaid leave of absence or holiday due to the employer’s pressure.

Do not agree to the employer discontinuing your salary payment without a temporary layoff because, in this case, you might lose the right to receive unemployment benefits.

Early childhood education teachers’ contact person in temporary layoff negotiations
If the daycare centre teachers who are members of OAJ have not elected an employee representative to represent them in accordance with the Act on Co-operation within Undertakings, they can elect a co-operation representative representing teachers who are members of OAJ for the temporary layoff negotiations announced by the employer. The teachers’ contact person receives instructions and guidance from OAJ.

During the negotiations, employers usually want to proceed quickly and make quick decisions, but you should not act in the haste and hurry.

It is important for the workplace’s contact person to carefully listen to what the employer presents and to take notes of the negotiation. If something is not clear, request more information. You should not accept anything that you are not sure about.

The personnel representatives should demand that the employer keeps minutes about the negotiations from the very start of the negotiations. During co-operation negotiations, it is recommended to record all differing opinions and viewpoints in the minutes.

Become your workplace’s contact person
Your workplace’s contact person can submit their contact details to OAJ. Private individuals can request more information regarding temporary layoffs at private daycare centres from Labour Market Advisor Timo Mäki or OAJ’s attorney. Contact: timo.maki@oaj.fi 

What should I do if I am temporarily laid off?

OAJ members can apply for earnings-related daily allowance from the Teachers' Unemployment Fund for the duration of their layoff.

If you are being temporarily laid off, you must register as an unemployed job-seeker at TE Services latest on your first layoff day. You can apply for earnings-related daily allowance after two weeks have passed since the beginning of your temporary layoff.

If your temporary layoff period lasts for less than two weeks, you should apply for the earnings-related daily allowance earliest on the final day of your layoff period.

Also familiarise yourself with the question regarding temporary layoffs in private day care centres under the section Covid-19 and early childhood education.

What do I have to do if my employer cancels the lay-off?

If you have been laid-off until further notice, the employer must notify you at least seven days in advance of the resumption of work. Regarding fixed-period lay-off there is no similar provision for notification, you are obliged to return to work, once your employer has cancelled the lay-off.

Can the employer postpone my lay-off on the basis that the employer needs me at work for the duration of the previously agreed lay-off?

The Employment Contracts Act does not allow postponing the lay-off unless the employer and employee agree otherwise. If the employer needs to begin a new lay-off, the employer must conduct co-determination talks again regarding the lay-off.

Will my salary be paid if my workplace is closed due to an infectious disease?

If your workplace is closed due to an infectious disease, your employer should primarily offer you the opportunity to carry on teaching remotely and thereby keep your teaching hours and receive your salary.

If this is not possible (for example, due to the content of the taught course) and you are prevented from working, an employee in an employment relationship is entitled to remuneration for at least 14 days. After this period of time, the employer is not obliged to pay remuneration.

If the workplace of a civil servant employee is closed and they do not have the possibility to work remotely, the payment of their salary continues normally. The Act on Civil Servants in Local Government does not limit the payment of salaries to 14 days.

If it is not possible to continue working after the 14 days have passed, you are recommended to apply for earnings-related daily allowance from the Teachers' Unemployment Fund. In order to receive the earnings-related daily allowance, you must register as an unemployed job-seeker at TE Services latest on your first unpaid day.

If my workplace is closed due to an infectious disease, do I have to apply for time off or apply for a leave?

You should not apply for time off from work during the closure of your workplace. By doing so, you will lose the possibility for receiving earnings-related daily allowance.

 

Unemployment regulations have been enhanced temporarily. How?

During the state of emergency, there is no five-day waiting period for the payment of unemployment benefits.

In addition, the layoff period does not use up the maximum number of days of unemployment benefit.

The definition of lay-off in the law was clarified so that agreeing to lay-off does not prevent receiving the unemployment benefit if the lay-off is initiated by the employer and there is a reason for it based on the employer's functions or financial situation.

The condition of previous employment is reduced to 13 weeks, normally being 26 weeks. These temporary regulations are valid from 16th March until 31st December 2020.

Check also Teachers' Unemploymend Fund

During the spring, OAJ will not be arranging any trainings or seminars due to the coronavirus situation. More information will be sent to persons who have registered for trainings and persons who will be invited for meetings. Some of the trainings are completely cancelled, some will be postponed until autumn and some are organised in another way, for example, over Webex.

OAJ recommends that its member organisations, national divisions and their organisations adopt similar courses of action.

My employer has confirmed the dates of my annual leave. Can I change the dates of my annual leave?

The employer is primarily bound to the announced or agreed dates of the employee’s annual leave.
However, if the employer changes the dates of the employee’s annual leave during exceptional circumstances by invoking the Annual Holidays Act, the employer must compensate for all losses caused to the employee by changing the time of their annual leave. These kinds of losses may include, for example, costs caused by cancelling a holiday trip, hotel fees, cottage rents or travel tickets.

My employer demands that my old holidays be used by the end of April. Does my employer have the right to obligate me to take annual leave that we have previously agreed to be saved for later?

The employer and the employee may also agree that the employee will take the portion of the holiday exceeding 15 weekdays (18 weekdays according to the Annual Holidays Act) during the following holiday season or thereafter as carried-over holiday. The timing of the carried-over holiday is agreed together with the employer. The employer does not have the right to unilaterally decide the timing of the carried-over holiday.

The employer has the right to order an employee to take winter holidays accrued during the last holiday credit year of 2018–2019 by the end of April if the holidays have not been confirmed and it has not been agreed that they will be saved for later.

The employer cannot order an employee to take holidays from the holiday credit year of 2019 before the beginning of the next holiday season on 2 May.


Does my employer have the right to demand that I change my holiday bonus into holiday bonus leave?

In the municipalities, it was possible to temporarily agree that holiday bonuses could be changed for holiday bonus leave. This agreement concerned the holiday bonuses earned during holiday credit years 2017–2018 and 2018–2019.

It was only possible to change holiday pay for holiday pay leave if a local agreement was concluded in the municipality regarding the changing of the holiday bonus, approved by the employer and the chief shop steward. After this, the employee had the opportunity of changing their holiday bonus for time off.

Holiday bonus leave is granted latest by the beginning of next holiday season following the holiday credit year, in other words, by 30 April.

At the moment, if an employee has not taken all of their holidays that are based on the abovementioned agreement of changing holiday bonuses for holiday bonus leave, the timing of these holidays must be agreed together with the employer. The employer does not have the right to unilaterally decide the timing of the employee’s holiday bonus leave.

It is no longer possible to agree on changing the holiday bonus accrued for the holiday credit year 2019–2020 for holiday bonus leave.


Can my employer obligate me to take days off due to the working-hours compensation saved in the working time bank?

Municipalities and private service providers have the opportunity to make an agreement about a local working time bank. Working time bank refers to a voluntary system where working-hours compensation changed into time off can be saved and used later as full days off.

The timing of taking time off due to hours accrued in the working time bank must be agreed between the employer and the employee. The employer does not have the right to unilaterally decide the timing of the employee taking time off due to hours accrued in the time bank.

If there is no agreement regarding a local working time bank, the employer must mark down the working-hours compensation changed into time off in advance in the rota and take the amount of the working-hours compensation into account in the regular working hours of the week in question. This means that the employer has the right to order an employee to swap their working-hours compensation into time off by marking these days in the rota in advance.

If the working-hours compensation changed into time off has not been marked in the rota in advance, the timing can be agreed between the employee and the employer. The employer cannot order the employee to take a day off by making a change to a confirmed rota unless the change is mutually agreed.