Employment law review: The year 2019 in the rear-view mirror and 2020 appearing on the horizon
With the year 2019 now behind us, it is a good time to remind ourselves of the changes that took place in the field of employment law over the past year. It is also time to prepare for the reforms that will happen in 2020.
LEGISLATIVE REFORMS, AMENDMENTS AND SIGNIFICANT PRECEDENTS IN 2019
In 2019, there were some amendments to Finnish employment legislation. First, the Annual Holidays Act was amended to ensure the employee's right to four weeks of paid annual leave in case of absence from work due to sickness or medical rehabilitation. Also, the Act on the Protection of Privacy in Working Life was amended with small, mainly technical, changes that were needed due to the much-discussed EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).
In the summer, there was an amendment to the Employment Contracts Act that aims to facilitate termination in small companies as now the employer's size must always be taken into account when assessing the proper and weighty reason for termination related to the employee. The practical significance of this change remains to be seen.
In addition, the Supreme Court established a significant precedent regarding agreements on termination of employment. The ruling can be seen as a good reminder for employers of what should be taken into account when entering into termination agreements with employees.
Finally, the end of the year was eventful, especially from the labour market perspective, as a round of negotiations concerning new CBAs began, stimulating a lot of public debate and some political crisis, too.
WHAT TO EXPECT IN 2020
The new decade has begun with a relatively major renewal as comprehensive reform of the Working Hours Act entered into force on 1 January 2020. The new legislation introduces some remarkable innovations; however, only time will tell how significant these will be in practice.
The new Working Hours Act is the only comprehensive reform anticipated to come into force during 2020 as the new Government's programme with many labour market goals has just begun to take shape.
However, we are about the have a taste of the coming changes. During the first half of the year, the Government plans to reset the employer's obligation to inform the Employment and Economic Development Office of redundancies of at least 10 employees.
Moreover, some long-term legislative schemes have advanced recently. The governmental working groups regarding possible reforms concerning non-competition agreements and co-operation consultation obligations will provide their proposals during 2020, but it is still too early to say when and in what way the current legislation will be amended.