General terms of employment
Employment contract – the basics
Terms of employment in writing
An employment contract can be done orally, in writing or electronically. It is best to opt for written contracts, so your terms of employment are there in black and white.
Employment contracts are for permanent work unless there are definite reasons for them being temporary or fixed term. Temporary contracts can be renewed indefinitely.
Permanent contracts only expire following notice of dismissal, which is subject to the terms of the contracts themselves and to statutory rules.
Employment contract should include
Written employment contracts must state the basic terms of employment: tasks, pay, working hours, annual leave, and the applicable collective bargaining agreement.
Part-time and temporary employees should bear in mind that employers must not subject them to less favourable terms than apply to other employees because of the nature of their employment contract.
The duration of employment may be anything from one day to many months or longer. People working in broadcasting may be employed by the hour or per programme, even if they are designated as freelancers.
Collective agreements and the law
Collective and company-specific agreements exist to safeguard employment terms. If your work does not come under such an agreement, terms of employment are set by labour legislation and your employment contract.
Collective agreements or legislation may override the terms of unfair employment contracts, for instance concerning the minimum wage.
You can find out about the various social benefits your employer provides from your shop stewards or supervisors.
A variety of material is generated in journalistic work that is protected by copyright. The Copyright Act protects works that meet the criteria of creativity and originality, such as written works and photographs.
Unprotected material includes small news items, lists of facts, ideas and data. The fact that a particular piece of work has been time consuming to produce does not automatically qualify it for copyright protection. The copyright belongs to the author of the work regardless of where and when (at work or during free time) it has been created.
If copyrights have been collectively agreed on in the workplace, they will cover the extent of surrendering copyright and the ensuing compensation. If there are no such agreements, the collective agreement rules on copyright are used. These are given in the collective agreement concerning print media.
If you work for a business where no valid collective agreements exist, and nothing has been agreed on surrendering the copyright in the employment contract, your employer will usually be allowed to use your work in regular business operations.
If you are a freelancer, you should make sure that copyright is agreed for each assignment you do.
Due to the development of media groups and multimedia, it has become increasingly important to ensure that journalistic material is used in line with copyright agreements. Nowadays, most newspapers have online editions, and companies often own other media.
Journalists working in print media are entitled to two days of training every year. Employers pay for this training. You must always agree on the training with your supervisor.
The Finnish Broadcasting Company and MTV provide paid training leave. Leave can be granted by application to Finnish Broadcasting Company employees who have worked full-time in the industry for at least 10 years, and at least five of these for the company. MTV programme employees who have worked for the company for more than three years are entitled to apply for leave for further training.
Influencing matters and getting assistance
Employees should agree on all matters primarily with their supervisors. In case of problems, you can get assistance from the shop steward, occupational health and safety representative and the UJF.
Shop stewards supervise compliance with collective agreements and laws, carry out general advocacy work for union members, and maintain good industrial relations. They assist if there are workplace disagreements on salary, working hours, holidays or copyright. The position of shop stewards is guaranteed by the right to interpret agreements, the right to negotiation, the right to receive information, and the right to make local agreements.
Some issues, such as details of legislation or precedents, are so complicated that shop stewards may be unable to solve them. UJF lawyers are on hand to give advice and guidance.
Occupational health and safety representatives check that the work does not endanger or harm the health of employees.
As an employee, you must also oversee your own interests. For instance, each employee is largely responsible for complying with agreements and working hours, and for taking care of bonuses and overtime remunerations.
Good journalistic practice
Journalists and photographers must not be made to perform tasks that violate good journalistic practice or their professional ethics.
Journalists do not have to write anything that goes against their own convictions. Their refusal to do so must not be penalised. The policy of the publication/newspaper must be followed. The publisher must define the policy clearly in writing.
Journalists and photographers must not use, or be made to use, a publication’s journalistic content for advertising.
What if I’m dismissed?
If your employer terminates your employment contract, your shop steward can check the legality of the decision.
You will be eligible for unemployment benefit by registering at the employment office as a full-time, able-bodied, unemployed job seeker available for work and who cannot be provided with work and is not studying or training.
The level of benefits you will receive depends on:
- unemployment fund membership when your were employed
- your level of earnings before you became unemployed
- how your employment was terminated, and any related agreements.