When you work in Finland

Once you have become accustomed to your workplace and everyday life has begun running smoothly, you can improve your knowledge of Finnish working life and society.

Page contents

Know your rights and obligations
Accident insurance
If you fall ill
Familiarise yourself with Finnish working culture
Develop on your career
Maintain your language skills
If you change jobs
Apply for citizenship

Learn more about the characteristics of Finnish working life, including 

  • trade unions
  • non-discrimination
  • equality

Find out how you should act in new situations you may encounter in your everyday life. Such situations could include 

  • falling ill
  • changing jobs
  • suddenly having your employment relationship terminated

You should also find out how and where you can pass a National Certificate of Language Proficiency.

Know your rights and obligations

In Finland, it is customary to belong to a trade union and most employees belong to one. If you wish to, you can also join a trade union. Trade unions negotiate collective agreements and members are entitled to receive advice and support in all employment-related matters. Membership also entails other benefits: 

  • unemployment security
  • education
  • various activities and events

You can also join an unemployment fund. Some of the Finnish unemployment funds belong to trade unions and others are independent. If you become unemployed, the unemployment fund will pay you an earnings-related unemployment allowance that is often bigger than the basic unemployment allowance.

Accident insurance

Your employer is required to insure you in case of accidents. The employer's insurance ensures that you will be indemnified for costs and loss of income caused by an occupational accident or disease.

If you fall ill

If you fall ill, you can use the services provided by municipalities, hospital districts and private doctors, dentists and hospitals. If you do not belong to the Finnish social security system, make sure that you have a sufficiently comprehensive health insurance. 

If you are an EU citizen, obtain a European Health Insurance Card in your country of origin. The card will give you access to medically necessary, state-provided healthcare if you suddenly fall ill. 

Your employer is required to provide you with occupational health care. The purpose of occupational health care is to prevent work-related illnesses and promote the health and working capacity of employees.

If you fall ill, notify your employer of your absence without delay. At your employer's request, you must present a doctor's certificate about your disability to work due to illness. 

How the employer should be notified of absences, what other measures are expected of you and how many days you can be absent due to illness without presenting a doctor's certificate is often agreed on in contracts or at the workplace.

Familiarise yourself with the collective agreement that applies to you. It defines matters related to falling ill and may include a decision on a significantly longer period of sick pay than the minimum period laid down by law.

Familiarise yourself with Finnish working culture

Finnish working life values diligence, individuality and independent initiative. Matters that have been agreed on should be performed and deadlines kept. 

In practice, knowing at least the basics of Finnish is required at almost all workplaces. However, English may be used as the working language, particularly in large companies. The employer determines the level of language skills required for a job.

Develop on your career

The ability to speak Finnish or Swedish and your work experience impact your career development. Education will help you develop on your career. 

Various businesses, institutions and trade unions organise courses and shorter educational events. Find out how you can further develop your professional skills.

In Finland, wages are determined in negotiations between employer and employee organisations. You can also negotiate a personal pay increase with your employer based on your performance and job description. In personal negotiations, you must convince your employer that you deserve a pay increase due to your development or the increased difficulty of your duties.

Maintain your language skills

The ability to speak Finnish is valued in Finnish working life. This is why it is important to use the language in various situations both at work and in your free time.

Getting a job may require passing a National Certificate of Language Proficiency in Finnish or Swedish. 

The National Certificate of Language Proficiency (YKI) is a test system planned for adults, and the tasks measure language skills in practical situations. The National Certificates of Language Proficiency do not require language skills in any special field.

If you change jobs

Changing jobs means the beginning of a new job-seeking process. Inform your current workplace of your plans in good time and be prepared to acquire a new residence permit for an employed person. You should also ensure that your employer takes care of all obligations and pays you your final wages.

You can change jobs freely if your new job is in the same occupational sector as your previous job and you have a valid residence permit for an employed person. If you do not apply for a new residence permit until your previous permit has expired, you may not begin work before obtaining the new permit.

If your new job is in another occupational sector, you must acquire a new residence permit for an employed person for your new job. You cannot begin work in your new job until you have been granted a residence permit for the occupational sector in question.

Apply for citizenship

If your identity has been established reliably and you meet the other requirements for naturalisation, you may acquire Finnish citizenship by application.

Obtaining Finnish citizenship requires that you have satisfactory oral and written skills in Finnish or Swedish. If you wish to demonstrate your language proficiency by passing the Civil Service Language Proficiency Certificate, contact an assessor.