Know your Rights

Academic Self-Defence – Know Your Rights

In the Academic Self-Defence seminars that are held by the FUURT local associations, we tackle some important issues especially for the international staff’s point of view. In these seminars, we want to give the international staff an overview of the Finnish labor market system as well as an overview of the collective bargaining system. Going through the most important parts of the collective agreement for the universities, such as the salary system, has proved to be beneficial, since often these matters have not been previously explained to the foreign researchers.

Also, we want to give the international staff an introduction to the Finnish labor laws. It is necessary to inform the foreign researchers what is important to know when working at the university from a legal point of view. It is very important to be knowledgeable of the main legislation that governs the employment relationship, for example the Employment Contracts Act, the Unemployment Act, the Working Hours Act, the Health and Safety Act and so on.

Most of the things related to employment relationship are legislated in the Employment Contracts Act. For example, the rights and obligations of both the employer and the employee. Things such as fixed-term contracts, the right to maternity or paternity leave, equal treatment at the work place, notice times, the right to give notice or to terminate the employment contract, the right to damages in some instances and so on.

It is also important to know how the 1624 working hour system in the collective agreement is supposed to work, how the yearly work plan is supposed to work, how grants are taxed and how certain general practices at the work place affect the employees.

The unemployment benefit system is also something that is always discussed, especially since, unfortunately, unemployment is a matter that a lot of young researchers are forced to face from time to time. For an international audience, however, it is not always the simplest thing to explain. If one is an EU/ETA citizen, there usually are no problems and they are entitled to receive unemployment benefits the same as native Finns. But if they come from outside the EU/ETA, it may get a bit trickier. The right to unemployment compensation is usually dependent on the visa the seeker has, so the status which the person has, makes a difference. always make sure, you know what your status is, so you can be prepared.

Legislation on students and researchers from outside the EU to be amended

Residence permits for researchers and students would be extended and job-seeking and entrepreneurship would be encouraged through a residence permit granted for this. The goal of this act implementing the EU Directive on students and researchers is that most students completing their degrees in EU countries stay and work in the Union.

On 22 March, the Government submitted to Parliament a legislative proposal for implementing the EU Directive on the conditions of entry and residence of third-country nationals for the purposes of research, studies, training and voluntary service. Provisions in the Aliens Act that overlap with the Directive would be repealed.

With the new act, all researchers would receive a researcher’s residence permit, irrespective of whether the research is in an employment relationship or, for example, receiving a grant. The residence permit would be granted continuously for two years. Currently, a permit may be temporary or continuous, and in principle it is granted for one year. The extended residence permit would be issued for a maximum of four years.

The acts are scheduled to enter into force on 15 May 2018.

text Mia Weckman
lawyer, the Finnish union of university researchers and teachers

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