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Acting as an employee representative

Workplaces that do not have a collective agreement cannot elect a shop steward. However, the Employment Contracts Act guarantees representation of personnel also in companies not governed by any collective agreement. In these companies senior salaried employees may elect an employee representative. In fact, it is common for separate employee representatives to be elected for each personnel group.

The employee representative will represent the personnel in different matters and negotiations related to employment relationships. They also participate actively in developing the workplace. An employee representative can only enter into agreements based on an authorization specific to a particular issue. In practice, the employee representative will usually negotiate a “framework agreement” with the employer, and every employee can then either accept or decline to include it in the terms of their employment relationship.

We recommend electing an employee representative and a deputy employee representative for a period of two years at a time. We also recommend that a written contract is drawn up between the employee representative, the deputy employee representative and the employer regarding employee representation. The advisor of your contract branch can help in drawing up the contract.

Why should you elect an employee representative?

It is in the interest of both the employees and the employer to elect an employee representative. Electing an employee representative can help develop the workplace as employees know who to turn to if there is something they would like to improve. In addition, the employer knows who to contact if they want to consult the employees’ opinion on an issue. The employee representative gathers together the thoughts of the personnel and communicates them to the employer.

Electing an employee representative guarantees that no employee is left alone. An employee representative helps both individual employees as well as larger groups in matters related to the employment relationship.

How is an employee representative chosen?

Any person working in the company as a senior salaried employee may be chosen as the employee representative and deputy employee representative. The law does not specify how the employee representative is chosen.

We recommend that the employee representative is elected in an election meeting. An active employee must begin organising the election before the election meeting can be held. The employee will send out an invitation to the meeting at least 14 days prior to the meeting. The invitation is sent to all of the employees that the employee representative will represent in the future.

Anyone who would like to become the employee representative must present themselves in the election meeting. Then, a vote to see who is elected the employee representative and the deputy employee representative is carried out, if necessary. We recommend conducting the voting by secret ballot. If there is only one candidate for each post, they are elected automatically.

The voting can also be carried out digitally. This should be considered, for example, if the company has locations in different parts of Finland. See our instructions on holding elections digitally.

Whether the election is conducted in a physical meeting or digitally, minutes must be prepared of the election meeting. When the employee representative and deputy employee representative have been elected, it is important to notify the employer and YTN. A written notification on the election of a personnel representative is provided to the employer. The chosen personnel representatives should also register in YTN’s electronic services in order to receive information regarding training for employee representatives and other important issues.

We are glad to help if you have any concerns regarding the election of an employee representative. The experts of your YTN contract branch will help you. Please also consider could there be a staff association at your workplace.

Remember always to communicate the election of a shop steward, an employee representative and the YTN contact person to YTN and to your employer.

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