Akava’s survey on fixed-term employment: Half of all fixed-term employment agreements are successive
According to Akava’s latest member survey, as much as 48 per cent of Akava members who are employed on a fixed-term basis do so under consecutive fixed-term agreements. At the time of the survey, they reported that they were working in, at the least, their third successive fixed-term employment for the same employer. On average, the respondents were employed in their second successive fixed-term arrangement, but in the worst case scenario, some employees had worked dozens of successive fixed-term periods spanning the course of many years.
“In practice, if fixed-term employments continue successively for a minimum of three terms, it suggests that the actual need for paid labour is continuous. In such cases, the grounds for fixed-term employments should be reconsidered. If there are no justified grounds for the employer to offer work on a fixed-term basis, the employment relationship should be made permanent,” states Researcher Joonas Miettinen.
According to the survey, it appears that up to 40 per cent of the fixed-term employments of Akava wage earners are legally unjustified.
“Furthermore, for nearly half of the employees, the fixed-term work may last a duration of 1-3 years,” Miettinen adds.
The negotiation status of fixed-term employees
must be strengthened
The economic recession may increase the temptation for employers to illegally exploit fixed-term employments. Wage earners are competing for what few jobs there are, and they are powerless to fight against illegal employment relationships. Akava demands an improvement in the negotiation status of fixed-term employees when it comes to agreeing on employment terms and conditions.
“Nowadays, an employee is bound by the fixed-term agreement until it ends unless otherwise agreed upon. In this way, fixed-term employment can, at worst, present an obstacle for the employee to take a permanent or better job. If the duration of the fixed-term agreement is more than six months, the employee should have the right to resign after the first six months, in the same way as is stipulated for employment contracts that are valid until further notice. This change would fundamentally reduce the attractiveness of using fixed-term employments,” states Director Maria Löfgren.
When an employer hires employees on a fixed-term agreement to do work that is actually permanent or regular, it increases the inequality between employees and reduces their commitment to the employer.
“Akava’s goal is to reach an employment rate of at
least 75 per cent. We will never reach this goal if the labour market
itself does not encourage potential employers to employ and job-seekers to accept
work, and it does not ensure that all parties hold legally-contracted
employments in high regard,” says Löfgren.
The impacts of parenthood must be balanced
The proportion of fixed-term employments is the largest among educated women under the age of 35; according to recent statistics from Statistics Finland, the figure is as high as 36 per cent. The corresponding figure for men of the same age is 21 per cent, which is six percentage points more than one year ago.
“The impacts of parenthood must be divided more evenly
than they are at present. Akava has long supported the idea of a 6+6+6 model. Additionally, we
propose that employers be compensated fully, instead of the current 90 per
cent, for salary expenses incurred by a maternity leave. The development of the parental leave system
will benefit the society as a whole, since we will need employees and taxpayers
in the future as well,” states Löfgren.
Fixed-term employment can be used to encourage
the hiring of long-term unemployed persons
All fixed-term employments are not, of course, illegal or unwanted. Fixed-term agreements could also be used to lower the threshold for employers to hire those who have been unemployed for a long period of time.
“We propose that a long-term unemployed person could be hired for a minimum of ten months without any other grounds for a fixed-term agreement, but without compromising proper and decent employment terms and conditions. The aim is to ensure that as many employees as possible would eventually be employed on a permanent basis. This exceptional arrangement could be used for a limited time with the idea that the trial period would clarify whether the model works and encourages employment,” suggests Löfgren.
- Altogether 2,840 members of Akava affiliates responded to the survey. The survey was conducted 19 April-5 May 2013.
For more statistics, go to www.akava.fi/akavalaiset_tyoelamassa (in Finnish)