Did a power outage prevent you from working? Remember your rights!

In principle, you as an employee have the right to receive your pay even if there is no electricity at your workplace. The employer is also obliged to take care of occupational safety in exceptional situations.

Both homes and workplaces are preparing for potential power cuts in the coming winter under the threat of power shortages. According to published information, the potential power cuts would last for approximately two hours at most, but their impact will vary depending on the industry and workplace.

As a rule, the employer is obliged to pay wages for 14 days according to Chapter 2, section 12 of the Employment Contracts Act if work is prevented due to a fire, an exceptional natural event or another similar event affecting the workplace beyond the control of the employee or the employer.

As an employee, you are also entitled to your pay, unless otherwise agreed upon, in a situation, in which you have been available to the employer in accordance with the contract, but have been prevented from working by circumstances for which the employer is responsible.

However, a nationwide electricity shortage may not necessarily be considered a circumstance, for which the employer is responsible. Because under those circumstances it is possible to agree otherwise on the obligation to pay wages, the employer may attempt to make an agreement with you on the payment of wages. If this happens, you as a full member of YTK* should contact the Lakikaveri legal employment advice.

Lack of electricity is not an actual reason for lay-offs

As a rule, the employer is obliged to pay wages for 14 days. If the electricity shortage continues for so long that it affects the amount of work, the employer may have a reason to lay you off on financial or production-related grounds. In case of lay-offs, the employer must always follow the legislation and the applicable collective agreement. 

It is unclear if a nationwide electricity shortage would be interpreted as a cause comparable to a lay-off that would entitle you as an employee to an unemployment benefit. The issue will be resolved by the TE Office, which will give a binding statement for the unemployment fund.

The employer must ensure safety at work

In practice, power cuts may cause issues such as equipment breaking, which makes them a risk to occupational safety.

According to the Occupational Safety and Health Act, the employer must prepare for disturbances and exceptional situations so that they will not cause any hazard or risk to the employees’ safety or health. The employer is also obliged to take the appropriate measures to avoid or reduce risks and train the personnel in case of exceptional and dangerous situations. If you are concerned about the situation or preparedness at your own workplace, you should talk about it with your own supervisor or the occupational safety and health representative at the workplace.

Everyone’s own preparedness and energy saving measures are important

On its website, the Finnish national grid company Fingrid reminds people that power cuts affecting consumers are the last measures taken in an electricity shortage. Every one of us can do their own part to reduce the risk of an electricity shortage with everyday actions. Behind the links below you can find tips on how to save electricity.

You can find up-to-date information on whether there is enough electricity as well as potential power cuts in your area by following the media, the website of your own electricity company, your email and text messages.

Linkki kyselyyn