The Finnish financial sector took important steps towards more flexible working hours

On Sunday, 25 March, Finance Finland (FFI), Service Sector Employers Palta, Trade Union Nousu, Trade Union Pro and the Federation of Professional and Managerial Staff YTN approved National Conciliator Minna Helle’s settlement proposal for the financial sector’s new collective agreement. FFI and Palta are pleased that the sector finally reached a solution that enables weekend work and avoids a sector-wide strike wave.

​In the future, financial sector employees can undertake weekend work under certain conditions. Companies will agree on weekend work locally whenever possible, but if an agreement cannot be reached, they can require employees to work on weekends. In such cases, companies use voluntary staff members to the extent possible, but if enough people do not step forward, employers can exercise their right to direct and nominate additional staff. This ensures adequate staffing on weekends as well.

“We have now taken an important step in reforming the financial sector’s working time regulations. In the future, we can work more flexibly, also on weekends. Because the model for weekend work was created in several stages, it forms a balanced system that considers both employer and employee views”, explains Tuomas Aarto, Palta’s director general.

According to Aarto, it is important that the entire financial sector is now able to better respond to customer needs. “That is the prerequisite for success. The insurance sector agreed on weekend work already in December 2017”, says Aarto.

Three-year agreement creates stability

The agreement and its wage increases follow a general trend. “The agreement is valid until 30 January 2020, and it includes an option to extend it for another year. If a consensus exists for extending the agreement, it will then expire on 31 January 2021. It is essential that some of the pay rises are distributed on the basis of pay negotiations, which are the norm in the financial sector”, explains Aarto.

As per the new agreement, a general increase of 1.26% was implemented on 1 March 2018. In addition, salaries will be increased by a negotiations-based increase of 1.2% as of 1 October 2018. A second general increase of 1% will take force on 1 February 2019.

Dialogue is required to succeed

“For the financial sector to continue to succeed, we need employers and employees to engage in dialogue also between collective agreement negotiations. An open and unprejudiced attitude is the best way for us to respond to future challenges as we prepare for the changes in our working methods”, Aarto points out.

As part of the recently approved solution, parties to the agreement encourage companies to continue the work started in the recent Healthy Financial Sector project. It aims to increase the financial sector’s productivity and competitiveness and to improve well-being at work. Employer and employee unions work together to promote dialogue especially about how artificial intelligence, changing customer needs, digitalisation, regulation and robotics affect work and the working community. The objective is to also assess future skills and training needs and to predict how work will evolve.

The financial sector’s collective agreement covers some 25,000 salaried employees. The employer parties to the collective agreement are FFI and Palta, which also represents FFI in negotiations as per their collaboration agreement.

For more information, please contact Director General Tuomas Aarto, Palta, tel. +358 40 152 0073