Do you know your pay rights? Even your employer doesn’t always know, so you should be careful!
- Legal assistance
The Lakikaveri service that YTK Worklife offers for its members has revealed that there is a lot of confusion about pay issues for both employees and employers. Employees may have been underpaid or may not have received their bonuses. Employers are not always aware of pay practices either, so it is important to be vigilant.
As many as 42% of the cases that end up in the YTK Worklife Lakikaveri service for further investigation by a lawyer concern pay. “In a typical situation, the employer pays too little hourly or monthly wages, or the employee is owed wages for overtime, for example. The misunderstandings are most common in small and medium-sized companies,” says Kirsti Paloniemi, a payroll expert. Her work includes helping YTK Worklife members with payroll issues.
Paloniemi points out that the employee or employer should always agree on overtime, for example, separately. They should also agree on how overtime is to be compensated: in time off or in cash.
“Both the law and the collective agreement stipulate that the employee must be compensated for overtime. You cannot agree on terms that are worse than the collective agreement, but you can agree on better terms,” he points out.
Once the employment relationship has ended, pay disputes may concern, for example, pay during notice, holiday pay or holiday pay.
Even employers don’t always know how to handle payroll issues
Once the employment relationship has ended, it is easier to find out what is not clear. On the other hand, it is typical that when the employment relationship continues, people continue to work for too little pay or without compensation for overtime for a long time.
“An employee may have worked a lot of overtime for a couple of years, then, because of the heavy workload, they get tired and start to question whether the situation is fair. On the other hand, you might talk to an acquaintance who works in the same field and discover that you are working under worse conditions,” says Kirsti Paloniemi.
She says that ambiguities are often due to ignorance, but sometimes she has come across deliberate situations.
In many small companies, the payment of wages is outsourced to an accounting office, which takes care of it on the basis of the hours declared by the employer. The outsourced payroll officer may not be familiar with the collective agreement in the sector. On the other hand, even if they did, the external payroll officer is not obliged to take a position on the amount of the salary or, for example, on overtime and bonuses.
Even if the payroll officer points out possible errors or shortcomings, the employer may not change its ways. For example, they may argue that the company is small or that it is expensive to pay bonuses. On the other hand, he may argue that it is not the practice to pay bonuses in the sector concerned or in similar operators.
“It is always the employer’s responsibility to comply with the law and the collective agreement, and he should be very familiar with the collective agreement in the sector,” says Paloniemi.
If wages have to be recovered retroactively, it can be very expensive for a small company. It is therefore in everyone’s interest to get things right along the way.
Employment contract and pay slips under the magnifying glass
At the beginning of the year, YTK Worklife asked its members what kind of confusion they have had about their pay and what kind of help and advice they could use. In a survey that attracted almost 6,000 responses, well over half of respondents (around 58%) had needed help with pay at some point in their careers.
“The most important thing is to check your own employment contract. Never sign a contract if you don’t understand its contents. It is always a good idea to include a clause in your contract stating that the employment relationship will be governed by the collective agreement and that it should be written down correctly,” says Paloniemi.
It is also a good idea to look carefully at your pay slip every month. Do the hours worked and the wages paid match the agreed amount?
“If there are any doubts about your pay, start by asking and discussing with your employer. The sooner and earlier any ambiguities are addressed, the better.”
It is very important to make sure that you can get expert help if you need it, when you have questions or something is unclear. Combined members of the YTK have access to the Lakikaveri service, where they can ask a lawyer about employment matters with a low threshold. If the matter is not resolved during a telephone conversation, the lawyer can investigate the situation further.
Kirsti Paloniemi says that an agreement is usually reached quickly by jointly calculating how much the employee has to pay and the Lakikaveri lawyer agrees with the employer. If it should happen that no agreement can be reached, the combined members of the YTK are covered by legal expenses insurance.
Take care of these:
- Make sure you understand what you are agreeing to before you sign the contract.
- Make sure you understand what you are signing before you sign. Make sure that your employment contract is based on a general collective agreement. Check that the name of the collective agreement is written down correctly.
- If you find that you regularly work long hours, agree with your employer how you will be compensated.
- Check your pay slip each month to ensure that the wages paid match the hours worked. Have you also been compensated for any overtime or holiday time, for example?
- Make sure that you have access to expert help in good time if you need it. Combined members of YTK have access to the Lakikaveri service, which includes telephone advice on employment law, legal advice and legal expenses insurance.