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The law obliges the employer to intervene in conflict situations that arise at work, both preventively and remedially. The employer’s obligations are based in particular on the Occupational Safety Act, the Employment Act, the Equality Act (the Act on Equality between Women and Men) and the Non-Discrimination Act. In prevention, the most important thing is to be aware of how the work is going and the situation in the work community, so that stressful and harmful factors and hazards can be influenced before they accumulate and become harmful to health. In this context, key issues are highlighted from the perspective of the employer and the employee. Work community activities, including the supervisor’s role, will be discussed in more detail elsewhere in this our website.

Occupational Safety and Health Act

The Occupational Safety and Health Act (738/2002) is a general act that applies to almost all work. The aim is to develop the working environment and working conditions at the workplace in a proactive, systematic and goal-oriented way. This safeguards the employees’ working ability and prevents health problems due to work and the working environment. In the Occupational Safety and Health Act, health refers to both physical and mental health.

 The employer must take care of the safety and health of the employees at work. The employer’s obligations can be divided into preventive and corrective measures. In order to prevent conflicts occurring at work, the employer must, among other things,

When the employer becomes aware that an employee has been subjected to harassment or other inappropriate treatment that causes harm or danger to health at work, the employer must take the available measures to investigate the situation and eliminate the inappropriate treatment. You can use the material from the Centre for Occupational Safety as support:

The employee must follow the employer’s instructions and rules. They must be careful and take sufficient care in their work so that no one’s safety or health is endangered. In addition, they must inform the employer and the health and safety officer of any deficiencies, defects or shortcomings that they discover that may cause harm or a risk to their own or others’ safety or health.

The Occupational Safety and Health Act also obliges employees to avoid activities or behaviour towards others that cause harm or danger to their safety or health. Of course, it is also required to act professionally at work in every way.

In the event of conflicts, the employee must, within the scope of their own competence, assess the situation in order to eliminate the disturbance or conflict. If they are unable to do this on their own or do not dare to do so for some reason, they must inform the supervisor. It is also a good idea to notify the health and safety officer.

Employment Contracts Act

The most important regulation governing employment is the Employment Contracts Act (55/2001). It defines the key obligations of the employer and the employee in the employment relationship. The Employment Contracts Act requires that the employer treats employees equally, unless a deviation from this can be justified by the employee’s duties or position. Employers must also promote their relations with employees and the relations between employees in all respects.

According to the Employment Contracts Act, the employer has the right to determine who directs and supervises the performance of the work. The supervisor acting as the employer’s representative is, therefore, entitled to issue supervisory orders, organise work and work methods and give more detailed instructions on how to carry out the work. They may choose to share this responsibility with employees within the framework of workplace policies. The right of supervisory authority, i.e., the right of management, is restricted to the extent that orders that are contrary to law or good practice, unreasonable or discriminatory may not be given.

The Employment Contracts Act also obliges employees to perform their work with due care and in accordance with the instructions issued by the employer and supervisor within the framework of their authority. In addition, the employee has a duty of loyalty(i.e., a duty to be loyal to the employer), which requires them to take reasonable account of the employer’s interests in their own activities. For example, an employee may not disseminate inaccurate information about their employer or its representatives. The duty of loyalty also extends to leisure time and social media activities. The higher or more responsible the employee’s role is in the workplace, the wider this obligation can be considered.

Non-Discrimination Act

The purpose of the Non-Discrimination Act is to promote non-discrimination and prevent discrimination, as well as to enhance the legal protection of victims of discrimination. Employers must treat all employees and job applicants equally. Any unequal treatment must be justified upon request. The employer must assess the implementation of non-discrimination in employment and in the workplace, taking into account the non-discrimination criteria in accordance with Section 8 of the Non-Discrimination Act.Discrimination is prohibited regardless of whether it is based on a fact or assumption about the person or someone else.

The employer may not take any negative action because the employee has complained about discrimination, participated in the investigation of a discrimination matter or contacted the authorities to investigate the matter.

Equality Act

The Act on Equality between Women and Men (609/1986; Equality Act) regulates the employer’s obligation to promote gender equality in an objective and planned manner. The law also aims to prevent discrimination based on gender, gender identity or gender expression.

The employer may not place the employee in a disadvantaged position because they have invoked the Equality Act or participated in the investigation of discrimination. The employer must also ensure that the employee is not subjected to such conduct by other employees.

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