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COVID-19 EU PolicyWatch

Database of national-level responses

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

Factsheet for case FI-2020-15/525 – measures in Finland

Temporary right of workers outside of EU/EEA countries to change employer and sector

Kolmansien maiden kansalaisten väliaikainen oikeus vaihtaa työnantajaa tai toimialaa ilman jatkolupaa

Country Finland , applies nationwide
Time period Temporary, 09 April 2020 – 31 October 2020
Type Legislations or other statutory regulations
Category Ensuring business continuity and support for essential services
– Smoothing frictions or reallocation of workers
Author Amanda Kinnunen (Oxford Research) and Eurofound
Case created 13 April 2020 (updated 02 May 2020)

Background information

In Finland, many essential sectors (i.e agriculture and forestry) are dependent on foreign workforce. Due to the current travel restrictions in Finland and elsewhere, entry of foreign workforce,and in particular seasonal workforce to the country, is limited.

Due to the outbreak of COVID-19, many workers will be either temporarily laid off or dismissed. This applies especially to the travel, restaurant and culture sectors where many foreigners work. Dismissed or temporarily laid-off workers experience particular challenges as residence permits granted on the basis of work are tied to employment.

Restrictions established in Ulkomaalaislaki (the Alien Act) (301/2004) and other relevant acts that regulate the rights of foreign workforce limit the right of workers who come outside of EU/EEA to change employer or sector. In order to change employer or sector, they normally need to apply for a permission.

Temporary amendments to these Acts give foreign workers (outside of EU/EEA) already residing in Finland a temporary right to work in essential sectors and roles without the need to apply for a permission when changing employer or sector.

Content of measure

These temporary amendements to the Acts that regulate the right of foreigners to change employer and sector apply to citizens of non-EU/EAA countries who have a residence permit in Finland.

This temporary right applies to sectors that are essential either for the society as a whole and roles that are essential for the labour market of individual sectors (e.g. maintenance tasks).

Sectors classified as essential include but are not limited to:

  1. agriculture
  2. fishery
  3. forestry
  4. food and drink industry
  5. electricity and gas
  6. construction
  7. production of chemical products
  8. production of pharmaceutical products

Use of measure

No information to date.

Target groups

Workers Businesses Citizens
Migrants in employment
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 No involvement No involvement
Form Not applicable Not applicable

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

  • No involvement
  • Main level of involvement: Unknown



Views and reactions

Due to urgency of the situation, no counsultancy round was organised when the temporary amendments were made. There is no information available regarding possible other forms of involvment of the social partners in planning this measure.


  • 02 April 2020: Hallituksen esitys eduskunnalle laeiksi ulkomaalaislain sekä kolmansien maiden kansalaisten maahantulon ja oleskelun edellytyksistä kausityöntekijöinä työskentelyä varten annetun lain väliaikaisesta muuttamisesta (
  • 09 April 2020: Lakimuutokset kolmansien maiden kansalaisten oikeudesta työskennellä huoltovarmuuden ja työmarkkinoiden toimivuuden kannalta tärkeissä tehtävissä voimaan 9.4.2020 (


Eurofound (2020), Temporary right of workers outside of EU/EEA countries to change employer and sector, case FI-2020-15/525 (measures in Finland), COVID-19 EU PolicyWatch, Dublin,

Disclaimer: This information has not been subject to the full Eurofound evaluation, editorial and publication process. All information is preliminary and subject to change.