Fixed-term employment contracts

The Finnish Union of University Researchers and Teachers and union shop stewards are continuously negotiating with the Employers’ Association of Universities in Finland on matters concerning the fixed-term employment contracts of its members, such as the process to make a position permanent or the compensations due to the illegal termination of an employment. If you are wondering about the grounds for a fixed-term employment or other related issues, you should turn to your local shop steward or Union office.

As stated in Chapter 1, Section 3 of the Employment Contracts Act, an employment contract is valid until further notice, unless it has been made for a fixed term on justified grounds. Thus, in light of the provisions in the Employment Contracts Act, employment contracts are normally of a continuous nature, and a fixed-term contract is an exception that requires a justified reason. It is important to remember that there must be a justified reason for each and every fixed-term employment contract. If there is no justifiable reason, then the employment contract must be made valid until further notice.

In practice, more than half of the university personnel are working within fixed-term employment relationships. The basis for a fixed term agreement may be, for example, a substitution for another employee or the temporary handling of tasks for a position that is currently open. Project-type work does not constitute sufficient grounds for a fixed-term contract, unless the work is, in reality, bound to the specific duration or content of a project. External funding is not either considered grounds, on its own, for a fixed-term contract.

The term chaining of fixed-term employment contracts refers to a situation in which an employer makes two or more successive fixed-term employment contracts with the same employee. In accordance with the general collective agreement for universities, fixed-term employment contracts can also be negotiated on the local or union level, and they may be submitted to the Labour Court for resolution. The district courts can also issue a decision to confirm an employment contract as valid until further notice, if there is no justified reason for a fixed-term employment contract. It is also good to remember that an employment relationship can become valid until further notice by virtue of the tacit extension of the contractual relationship as stipulated in the Employment Contracts Act, if the employee's work is allowed to continue beyond the end of the fixed term and the employer is aware of this fact, but no new employment contract is made.

Employees in fixed-term employment relationships have the same rights as those employed under a contract that is valid until further notice. Accordingly, those employed for a fixed term are equally entitled to, for example, occupational health care, and different types of holidays or periods of leave.

Fixed-term employment guide (pdf) (1.9 MB)