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Yhdenvertaisuus ja tasa-arvo työelämässä

Equality and equal opportunities in working life

According to Finnish law, all employees must be treated equally and given equal opportunities. No one must be discriminated against in recruitment or at the workplace.

Equal opportunities means that all people must be given the same opportunities regardless of their age, ethnic or national origin, nationality, language, religion or beliefs, opinion, disability, health, sexual orientation or any other circumstance connected to the person.

Finnish law also puts a high emphasis on gender equality, meaning that all people are equal regardless of their sex.

Equality and non-discrimination in working life are governed by the Non-Discrimination Act (yhdenvertaisuuslaki), the Act on Equality between Women and Men (tasa-arvolaki) and the Employment Contracts Act (työsopimuslaki). These acts state that employees must be treated equally in terms of hiring, working conditions, terms of employment, staff training and career advancement. In Finland, all employers must promote equality and non-discrimination. If the workplace has 30 or more employees, the employer must draw up a written equality plan (tasa-arvosuunnitelma) and non-discrimination plan (yhdenvertaisuussuunnitelma). 

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Equality and non-discrimination in the workplace

Equality in recruitment

The Non-Discrimination Act states that jobseekers must be treated equally. The employer must choose the most qualified applicant for the job. The employer must also be able to prove that the choice is justified on acceptable grounds related to the nature of the work and that the choice was not made on discriminatory grounds. Qualities that are not necessary for the performance of the tasks must not be required of jobseekers. For example, an employer cannot require perfect proficiency in the Finnish language if it is not strictly necessary for the job.

Equality at the workplace

You have the right to the same legal terms of employment as a Finnish employee.

Your employer cannot discriminate against you when making decisions about the distribution of tasks, career advancement opportunities or terminating employment. In addition, if your native language is not Finnish or Swedish, your employer must provide you with information on the key terms of employment and guidance for your work tasks in a language that you understand. 

If you are being treated less favourably at work or are being paid less because of your origin, the employer may be guilty of illegal discrimination.

The law applicable to international employment depends on the situation. International employment means, for example, that the domiciles of the employer and the employee are located in the territory of different states.

Discrimination at work is a crime. If you suspect that you have been discriminated against at work, you can contact the occupational safety and health authorities (työsuojeluviranomainen), the Non-Discrimination Ombudsman (yhdenvertaisuusvaltuutettu) or your trade union.

In problem situations, you can ask the occupational safety and health representative (työsuojeluvaltuutettu) or shop steward (luottamusmies) of your workplace for advice. The occupational safety and health representative supervises the safety of employees. The shop steward ensures that the employer complies with labour law and the collective agreement at the workplace. The shop steward also advises and helps resolve disputes, if necessary.

Read more about employees’ rights on the InfoFinland page During employment and Problems in working life.

Gender equality in recruitment and the workplace

Everyone must be treated equally in terms of hiring, working conditions and pay, regardless of gender. An employee must not be placed in an unequal position in working life due to pregnancy or parenthood. An employee does not have the right to refuse work assignments on the basis of their gender.

Finland has an Act on Equality between Women and Men, which states that an employer must monitor that gender equality is realised and that nobody is discriminated against at the workplace. The Ombudsman for Equality (tasa-arvovaltuutettu) monitors that the Act on Equality between Women and Men is obeyed. If you suspect that your employer has discriminated against you because of your sex, you can ask the Ombudsman for Equality for advice, guidance and help in resolving the issue.

Read more on the InfoFinland page Equality and non-discrimination.