Labor exploitation

Labor exploitation exists also in Finland, and the victim is often a foreigner. In practice, labor exploitation can mean that an employee who doesn’t know their rights in the Finnish labor market or for example is afraid of losing their right to stay in the country is paid less than the minimum stated in the collective agreement, is denied days off or has to work long hours without adequate compensation. If the exploitation includes also a de facto restriction of the employee’s freedom, the use of force, pressuring, threats, debt bondage, misleading, false promises or violence, it might fill the description of human trafficking.

In the Finnish criminal code, labor exploitation is criminalized as for example work discrimination, extortionate work discrimination, aggravated usury or in its most severe form as human trafficking. It is important to remember that work discrimination is compared to the general situation in the labor market and it does not require for certain employees to have worse working conditions than others who work for the same employer. Work discrimination based on for example nationality or ethnicity can happen even though the employer would have the same background.

In addition to the police, labor exploitation cases can be examined also by the labor protection departments of the Regional State Administrative Agencies (aluehallintovirasto in Finnish). However, a victim of criminal exploitation might be afraid to immediately contact authorities. A victim who is still not sure about whether or not to report to the authorities can contact Victim Support Finland (RIKU) confidentially.

From RIKU, a person who is suspected to have become a victim of labor exploitation can get advice on possible options for advancing their case if they choose to do so. RIKU does not forward any information to other instances without the person’s expressed consent.

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Short animated films about employees’ rights in Finland in nine languages:

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