Skip to content

Home An employment contract can be the most important document in your life – always do it in writing!

An employment contract can be the most important document in your life – always do it in writing!


  • Employment contract
  • Labour law
  • Legal assistance

“The biggest stumbling block in employment relationships is that the employment contract is not made in writing. Especially in certain sectors, there is still a culture of verbal agreement,” says Janika Räty, a Lakikaveri legal service lawyer . In her work, she helps the members of YTK Worklife with ambiguities in their employment relationships.

Without a written agreement on the terms of employment, it is easy to be in a word-against-word situation, where the employee has nothing to verify the agreement. 

“If the terms of employment and salary are agreed upon in writing, ambiguities are much less likely to arise. A written employment contract is definitely one of the most important documents in your life,” Räty emphasises. 

Familiarization is boring, but it pays off

Ambiguity in employment relationships is also caused by indifference or simply by not bothering to get familiarized with the employment contract enough. In these cases one doesn’t understand what they are agreeing on and that can cause problems later on. 

“Employment relationships involve a wide range of legislation, and collective agreements must also be taken into account. Even employers do not always know how to agree on the terms and conditions appropriately. That is why it’s good to discuss and raise issues,” Räty reminds.

Ambiguities in the employment contract cause problems when there are challenges at work. “We lawyers are often contacted to check whether a condition concerning one’s own employment relationship is completely correct – and the employment contract may have been followed as such for years. Although there may be an understanding of what has been agreed upon in the employment contract, it is not known whether the terms are adequate, legal or valid.”

If there is something unclear in the employment contract or it contains a condition that you yourself do not understand, it is important to discuss with the employer before signing the contract. The employee can always ask the employer for time to familiarize themselves with the employment contract. 

If necessary, the agreement can also be reviewed with an expert, such as YTK Worklife members with a Lakikaveri legal service lawyer.

Did you know?

A fund member of YTK can choose to join as a combined member* to YTK Worklife for an annual fee of 24€.
Combined members have access to the Lakikaveri legal telephone helpline immediately upon joining. After a six-month membership period, it is possible to get a lawyer to help with your employment problem and legal protection insurance. Some of the services require that membership in the work life services has lasted 6 months in the occurance of an issue.

So become a member now and not until it’s too late!

*Combined member of YTK  = a person who is a member of both the YTK Unemployment Fund and YTK Working Life Services.

Do you know your collective agreement?

Collective agreements are also one of the most common pitfalls of an employment contract. For example, the employment contract may completely lack information on which the collective agreement is followed in the employment relationship.

“In principle, collective agreements define the terms and conditions applicable to an employment relationship much more precisely and often even better than in an employment contract. If you do not know your own collective agreement, you can, out of ignorance, agree on too low a salary in terms of pay, for example,” says Janika Räty.

Sometimes, even afterwards, the parties to an employment relationship may have a dispute about which collective agreement is applicable to the employment relationship in the first place. Disputes are avoided when the discussion takes place in advance and the matter is recorded in the employment contract.

So where can you find out what your collective agreement (TES) is?   

“A universally binding collective agreement must be observed in all undertakings in the sector concerned. The list of valid universally binding agreements is public and available for everyone to see and use in Finlex. It is therefore worth approaching the matter from the company’s sector and comparing it with the scope of the collective agreement,” Räty instructs.

However, not all sectors have a universally binding collective agreement. In this case, a normally binding collective agreement may be considered, which is binding only for employers and associations that have committed themselves to the collective agreement in question. 

“If there is no universally binding collective agreement in your sector, and your employer has not committed to a normally binding collective agreement, the terms of employment are based on the labour law. In such a situation, it may be agreed with the employer that the employment relationship follows, for example, the industry’s minimum wage recommendations, if such exist. There are also general framework agreements, compliance with which can be agreed upon,” says Räty.

“Figuring out a suitable collective agreement can sometimes be really challenging. For this reason, the employment contract should contain information on which collective agreement is observed in the work. In order to avoid any ambiguity, it is therefore very important for the employee to pay attention to the fact that the applicable collective agreement is included in the employment contract.” 

Make sure that at least these key terms of employment are written into your employment contract. Also, make sure you understand the practical meaning of the terms and conditions!

  • Domicile and place of business of the employee and the employer
  • Starting date of work
  • The duration of the employment relationship and the legal basis for a possible fixed-term employment relationship 
  • Trial period
  • Place of performance of work
  • Main job responsibilities
  • The collective agreement applicable to the work or, if it does not exist
  • The basis of determination of the salary and other compensation and the pay period
  • Working hours to be respected
  • Determination of annual leave
  • Period of notice and the basis of its determination
Elina Andersson-Finne

Elina Andersson-Finne

Communications Manager

In addition to member communications, I am responsible in particular for media relations and influencing. My aim is to listen carefully to you and all our members and to the environment in which we operate in order to improve working life. So please feel free to get in touch!