Finns forge a flexible leave arrangement

January 6, 2006

On top of 11 statutory public holidays in 2006, Finnish academics can look forward to time off on Midsummer Day and Christmas Eve. Annual paid leave is regulated in a collective agreement for central government personnel, with a more generous allowance than the legal minimum.

Work time used to be linked to teaching responsibilities, but now 1,600 hours is the annual limit, with no set daily, weekly or monthly hours.

Instead, staff draft an annual work plan from which holidays are determined.

Each institution makes its own arrangements, but most leave is taken between June 16 and July 31.

Employees' length of service forms the basis for calculating their annual leave. Those with less than 12 months' service are entitled to leave of two weekdays for each month worked, rising to three days after 15 years'

service. Staff can gain up to nine extra days by taking part of their leave outside the usual holiday season.

The agreement also offers the possibility of exchanging holiday pay for additional time off, though this is not always feasible.

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