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EU PolicyWatch

Database of national-level policy measures

Eurofound's EU PolicyWatch collates information on the responses of government and social partners to the COVID-19 crisis, the war in Ukraine, rising inflation, as well as gathering examples of company practices aimed at mitigating the social and economic impacts.

Factsheet for measure FI-2020-12/815 Updated – measures in Finland

Permission to derogate from working hours arrangements in critical functions

Työnantajan mahdollisuus poiketa työaikoja koskevista järjestelyistä yhteiskunnan kriittisissä toiminnoissa

Country Finland , applies nationwide
Time period Temporary, 17 March 2020 – 16 June 2020
Context COVID-19
Type Legislations or other statutory regulations
Category Ensuring business continuity and support for essential services
– Change of work arrangements (working time, rota schemes)
Author Amanda Kinnunen (Oxford Research) and Eurofound
Measure added 05 May 2020 (updated 10 July 2020)

Background information

The Emergency Powers Act (Valmiuslaki) (1552/2011) lays down provisions on the power of authorities in emergency conditions.

The Finnish Government, in cooperation with the President of the Republic, has declared a state of emergency due to the COVID-19 outbreak.

As a result of this, parts of the Emergency Powers Act were activated. The Government issued a decree to allow employers to respond to possible labour shortage caused COVID-19 in critical functions of society. Derogation from working hours arrangements is part of this decree.

Content of measure

Permission to derogate from working hour arrangements is a measure that may be applied to the following sectors: 1) health care 2) social services 3) rescue services 4) emergency response centres 5) police services.

This measure is not connected to any specific set of professions but it applies to all personnel working in these sectors in Finland.

If this measure is applied and the regular resting times are not followed, employers are required to pay special attention to employee's health and safety.

No financial support is provided but this measure seeks to prevent labour shortages in sectors that are critical for functions of the society.


The following updates to this measure have been made after it came into effect.

05 July 2020

On 15 June 2020, the Government of Finland announced that as of 16 June 2020 the COVID-19 situation in Finland no longer constituted a state of emergency. The Government issued decrees repealing the use of powers under the Emergency Powers Act. The decrees were first set to remain in force until 30 June 2020.

As a result of this, employers no longer have permission to derogate from working hours arrangements in critical functions.

Use of measure

No information to date.

Target groups

Workers Businesses Citizens
Employees in standard employment
Workers in care facilities
Workers in essential services
Does not apply to businesses Does not apply to citizens

Actors and funding

Actors Funding
National government
No special funding required

Social partners

Social partners' role in designing the measure and form of involvement:

Trade unions Employers' organisations
Role Unknown Unknown
Form Not applicable Not applicable

Social partners' role in the implementation, monitoring and assessment phase:

  • Unknown
  • Main level of involvement: Unknown


The social partners were not involved in designing, implementing or monitoring this measure.

Views and reactions

Tehy and SuPer, two of the trade unions with members in the social and healthcare sector, have criticised the use of this measure by some employers. According to the trade unions, there have been cases where the measures has been used despite there not having been any urgent COVID-19 related labour shortage.

Sectors and occupations

    • Economic area Sector (NACE level 2)
      O - Public Administration And Defence; Compulsory Social Security O84 Public administration and defence; compulsory social security
      Q - Human Health And Social Work Activities Q86 Human health activities
      Q87 Residential care activities
      Q88 Social work activities without accommodation

This case is not occupation-specific.


  • 17 March 2020: Employers permitted to temporarily derogate from working hours and annual holidays arrangements in critical functions of society (
  • 15 June 2020: Use of powers under the Emergency Powers Act to end – state of emergency to be lifted on Tuesday 16 June (
  • 02 July 2020: Tehy and Super: The Emergency Preparedness Act has been misinterpreted in hospitals - employee lost a new job due to extended notice period(Tehy ja Super: Valmiuslakia on tulkittu väärin sairaaloissa – työntekijä menetti uuden työpaikan, koska irtisanomisaikaa pidennettiin) (


Eurofound (2020), Permission to derogate from working hours arrangements in critical functions, measure FI-2020-12/815 (measures in Finland), EU PolicyWatch, Dublin,

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