Dismissals and unpaid wages particular causes of disputes at workplaces

Elina Andersson-Finne, communications manager

Dismissals and unpaid wages cause the most disputes between employers and employees, as evidenced by statistics by YTK Association’s Lakikaveri legal service. Employees are more aware of their rights than before, which is reflected in a lower threshold to address injustices, estimates Hillevi Kontturi-Karvinen, legal counsel for the Association’s members.

Nearly 40% of cases that end up in YTK Association’s Lakikaveri legal service have to do with unpaid wages during or after employment. About one in four cases received by the legal service relate to dismissals on production-related or financial grounds or on grounds related to the employee’s person.

With nearly 250,000 members, YTK Association is one of the largest associations in Finland. In the Lakikaveri legal service provided by the association, members can receive legal counsel by phone. If the matter cannot be resolved over the phone, the member can receive personal assistance by a lawyer. Annually about 10.000 persons call the legal counsel and nearly 1000 cases receive personal assistance by a lawyer.

There is a lot of questions about pay and termination of employment

“Many members call to ask about ambiguities related to their pay. Either the wages or increments have been paid incorrectly, or the member has unpaid wages due,” says Hillevi Kontturi-Karvinen, who specialises in labour law.

According to her, dismissals are also a frequent reason for contacting the legal service. In such cases, the employee may have been offered a termination agreement, or the employee wishes to find out whether the dismissal was legal. 

Kontturi-Karvinen estimates that disputes at workplaces have increased in recent years. The main reason for this is that employees' awareness of their rights has increased.

“For example, the media may have brought up disputes at the workplace. This has encouraged people to look into their own situation. On the other hand, discrimination based on age and health, for example, is discussed more and more openly in the public sphere.”

Kontturi-Karvinen says that for many, the threshold for bringing attention to possible injustices in the workplace with the employer is still too high out of fear of the employer’s reaction. Often, employees want to be certain that an injustice has taken place before bringing attention to the matter. In addition, employees want to know what to do in order to address a potential problem with the employer diplomatically.

Proactive Legal Aid at a low threshold

“Many employees are afraid to speak out about issues with the employer out of worry of the possible consequences and ending up a scapegoat. People want advice from the lawyer on how to proceed in cases of unpaid wages, for example.”

The best way to prepare for possible ambiguities and disputes is to plan in advance. Through the YTK Association's Lakikaveri service, members have access to both the helpline and personal investigation services by a lawyer as well as legal expenses insurance, among other benefits.

Elina Andersson-Finne, communications manager

In addition to member communication, my responsibility is particularly media relations and influencing. My goal is to listen to you and all the other members of the Association and our operating environment with a precise ear and through it try to improve working life. So feel free to contact me!

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