Obligation to provide occupational health care to employees - concerns all employers in Finland

All employers operating under Finnish legislation have a duty to provide occupational health care for their employees in order to prevent work-related health risks. Due to recent legal reforms, under certain circumstances this obligation now extends to cover the period following termination of obligation to work. The employer is responsible for bearing the costs of providing occupational health care services to its employees.

Occupational health care during the employment

An employer's statutory obligation to provide occupational health care services is based on the Occupational Health Care Act (1383/2001), which applies to all employers regardless of their size. This means that every employee working in Finland is entitled to receive certain health care during employment regardless of the nature and duration of his/her employment relationship.

Employers must comply with their obligation to cooperate with personnel before both establishing occupational health care and when making other fundamental decisions concerning the matter. However, it is sufficient for the employer only to give the employees or their representatives a chance to discuss their situation, since the employer will take the final decision on the matter.

Employer's obligation extends to period after the termination of obligation to work

As a result of the amended Occupational Health Care Act, Finnish employees may now also be entitled to occupational health care services after their obligation to work has ended. The new obligation entered into force as of 1 January 2017.

The services shall be provided for employees made redundant on financial and production-related grounds under certain circumstances. In such situations, the employer must provide the services for six months after the employee's obligation to work has ended. However, two prerequisites shall be met in order for this duty to be applicable. Firstly, the employee must have been employed with the employer for at least five years before redundancy. Secondly the employer must regularly employ at least 30 employees. However, this obligation shall no longer apply if the redundant employee finds employment elsewhere for an indefinite period or for a fixed term of at least six months.

Extended occupational health care services are a common benefit for employees during employment. The employer may want to cut these benefits once obligation to work was terminated, for economic reasons. However, in light of these reforms, the level of the occupational health services should remain the same for employees post termination of their obligation to work. As such, the employer may not be entitled to cut such employees' rights as were considered standard during employment.

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