The employment contract is the basic agreement which is operational in the world of work. The employment contract obliges the employee to carry out specified duties for the employer in exchange for agreed pay and other benefits.
It is best to draw up the employment contract in writing. Nevertheless, if it is agreed upon orally or electronically, the employer must in addition provide written clarification of the main terms of employment, if the tenure of the contract exceeds one month. However, an employment contract in writing is beneficial for both the employee and the employer: with a written contract you can always check on the facts which had been agreed upon. With an oral contract this will not be possible. Therefore, always ask the employer to enter into a written employment contract with you.
At least the following should be agreed upon and stated in the employment contract either specifically or with reference to the appropriate sectoral collective agreement:
- The date when work will commence
- The workplace
- The nature of employment and its duration
- Trial period if applicable
- The main duties
- Working hours
- The applicable sectoral collective agreement
- Pay and pay period
- Annual holiday entitlement
- Period of notice and the basis of its calculation
The duration of a short term contract and the basis for this type of contract
If an employment contract has been signed, or a job has been offered and accepted, before the actual work is due to start, it is the employee’s duty to start work on the agreed date. You can only cancel your obligation to start work, by obtaining permission for this from the employer or by terminating your contract by giving sufficient notice prior to the date when you were due to commence work. If you do not wish to take up the job, it is advisable to inform the employer as soon as possible. In this case, it would be appropriate to adhere, at least, to the period of notice which is customary for employment contracts. However, this only applies to permanent positions. A short term contract cannot be terminated during the period of employment, unless otherwise agreed and stated in the contract. Employment for a trial period can be cancelled only after work has commenced.
Stating the locality of the workplace in the employment contract is particularly important if the company operates on several sites. The more detailed information about the locality there is in the employment contract, the better the employee will be protected. If only the name of a town, or an area where the workplace is situated is mentioned, for example, Helsinki, with the company having several sites in various parts of the city, you may find that you have to work in a variety of locations. However, some jobs involve travelling and, therefore, the actual place of work cannot always be stipulated.
The main duties of the employee should also be stated in the contract. If these have not been clearly detailed, you may find that you are expected to undertake tasks for which you were not actually employed.
Neither party may change the terms and conditions of the employment contract without the consent of the other. Therefore, it is advisable to read the employment contract carefully through before signing. You could even ask to take the contract away with you in order to study it thoroughly. If you are a member of a trade union, you can ask your workplace shop steward to look at the contract with you.