Trying to understand trial periods

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pinemach
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Trying to understand trial periods

Post by pinemach » Fri May 05, 2017 11:07 pm

Hello everyone - I'm in the US and I received a draft employment contract from a small Helsinki company. I'm really excited, but I'm confused about the contract. Everything looks fine except the trial period, which I don't fully understand.

It looks like I would qualify as a specialist and could move to Finland to begin work right away while I waited for a residence permit. That's what they would like me to do, and it would be my preference also. It also looks like if by some fluke of awful misfortune my employment was terminated during that period between relocating and actually getting a residence permit, I would be very screwed. It seems it would be difficult or impossible to remain in Helsinki continuously even if I found a different job since I would be legally able to stay only for 90 days without a residence permit, and it looks like the initial application would be rejected if employment was terminated? And that of course would complicate being able to find other employment in Finland. As much as employment being terminated later would still be awful, at least if I had a residence permit I would remain entitled to work there and have time to find something else.

This is a good company and a good job. Of all the places I've been interviewing with they have been my first choice. But relocating will necessarily be a huge commitment for me. Besides how disheartening it would be to have return to this godawful political climate that I am trying to escape, in relocating I would be giving up the stable accommodation I have now and burning a substantial part of my savings since the company can't offer a full relocation package. I would not have any kind of stable situation to come back to if I did have to come back, especially if it was on short notice.

I've done a ton of googling and searching in this forum and haven't been able to make any kind of confident assessment about what a trial period actually involves, and in particular under what circumstances the employer is entitled to terminate employment. Some places I see someone saying that the trial period is really only about not being required to give notice and has no bearing on when an employer can terminate. In other places I see someone saying that termination can be effectively arbitrary and the employer may not even be obligated to give the employed a reason for termination. If I actually have to screw up to have employment terminated during a trial period then I won't worry much about it. I am at least confident in my ability to do my job. But if my employment can be terminated without reasonable justification, or just because I'm not quite as good as they hoped I would be, even after I make such a huge commitment in going to Helsinki to work for them, I don't think I could accept the contract as is.

The applicable collective agreement given on the contract is Teknologiateollisuuden ylempien toimihenkilöiden työehtosopimus (Here's the English version I read). There's an "agreement against dismissal" section but it describes employees being on a trial period as exempt from that agreement without going into any other detail, and so it doesn't seem to inform what limitations there might be on dismissal during a trial period.

Is this a valid concern or are my fears unfounded? If during a trial period they really are free to terminate employment without a reason, what should I do to protect myself from the possibility of getting stuck in an untenable situation? Should I insist that there be no trial period? Should I insist that employing me for a minimum amount of time be written into the contract, such that if it does go south I would at least have a residence permit by the time they were entitled to terminate my employment without reason? Should I just not relocate until after I have a permit?

Any answers would be much appreciated. Thanks!



Trying to understand trial periods

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AnnikaL
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Re: Trying to understand trial periods

Post by AnnikaL » Sat May 06, 2017 7:10 am

I don't really have answers, I am very much in a similar situation in that I have accepted a job, am moving the family because of it, and I have this 'by law' four month clause written into the contract. I was lucky in that they actually tackled this with me before I even asked and were at pains to try to reassure me about it.... that it is there by law, I would have to be monumentally awful before they could even consider using it, it has never before been used, etc. I did feel very reassured that we spoke about this. Can you do the same... and just ask?
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rinso
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Re: Trying to understand trial periods

Post by rinso » Sat May 06, 2017 7:51 am

Trial periods are standard in Finnish contracts. They are there to help the employer deal with a really wrong choice.
And yes within that period employment can be terminated without reason.
Most Finns don't worry to much about it since employers hardly misuse the trial period.
And in your case the employer had to look outside Finland to find someone so he has not many alternatives.
If the company is financially ok and not in a major reorganization I think there is very little risk (if you're as good as you think you are).


irnbru
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Re: Trying to understand trial periods

Post by irnbru » Sat May 06, 2017 8:35 am

They can get rid of you easily enough after the trial period anyway if they really want to. Verbal warning, Written warning, gone.

Just takes one Manager who doesn't want you around to invent a couple of reasons. I've seen it happen unfairly here. Still better than the States in that regard. One of my friends was relocated to the US by my company. He bought a house and car there. Then they outsourced his job to a cheaper country.


betelgeuse
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Re: Trying to understand trial periods

Post by betelgeuse » Sun May 07, 2017 10:16 pm

pinemach wrote:It looks like I would qualify as a specialist and could move to Finland to begin work right away while I waited for a residence permit
pinemach wrote:Should I just not relocate until after I have a permit?
The specialist permits are quick to handle. I have been involved in an application that was decided the next business day. I don't know what the status quo is. However, considering that moving etc takes some time, I would just apply in US.
pinemach wrote:It seems it would be difficult or impossible to remain in Helsinki continuously even if I found a different job since I would be legally able to stay only for 90 days without a residence permit, and it looks like the initial application would be rejected if employment was terminated?
Correct.


betelgeuse
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Re: Trying to understand trial periods

Post by betelgeuse » Sun May 07, 2017 10:17 pm

AnnikaL wrote:I don't really have answers, I am very much in a similar situation in that I have accepted a job, am moving the family because of it, and I have this 'by law' four month clause written into the contract. I was lucky in that they actually tackled this with me before I even asked and were at pains to try to reassure me about it.... that it is there by law, I would have to be monumentally awful before they could even consider using it, it has never before been used, etc. I did feel very reassured that we spoke about this. Can you do the same... and just ask?
It is not required by law. It's legal to make a contract without any trial period.


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sinikala
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Re: Trying to understand trial periods

Post by sinikala » Mon May 08, 2017 3:27 am

pinemach wrote:In other places I see someone saying that termination can be effectively arbitrary and the employer may not even be obligated to give the employed a reason for termination. If I actually have to screw up to have employment terminated during a trial period then I won't worry much about it. I am at least confident in my ability to do my job. But if my employment can be terminated without reasonable justification, or just because I'm not quite as good as they hoped I would be, even after I make such a huge commitment in going to Helsinki to work for them, I don't think I could accept the contract as is.

The applicable collective agreement given on the contract is Teknologiateollisuuden ylempien toimihenkilöiden työehtosopimus (Here's the English version I read). There's an "agreement against dismissal" section but it describes employees being on a trial period as exempt from that agreement without going into any other detail, and so it doesn't seem to inform what limitations there might be on dismissal during a trial period.

Is this a valid concern or are my fears unfounded? If during a trial period they really are free to terminate employment without a reason, what should I do to protect myself from the possibility of getting stuck in an untenable situation? Should I insist that there be no trial period? Should I insist that employing me for a minimum amount of time be written into the contract, such that if it does go south I would at least have a residence permit by the time they were entitled to terminate my employment without reason? Should I just not relocate until after I have a permit?

Any answers would be much appreciated. Thanks!
It is a valid concern. Albeit unlikely that it will hit you personally.
During the probation period they can get rid of you for any reason, irrespective of your performance.


The 4 month probationary period is intended to be a 4 month Get Out of Jail Free for both the employer and the employee. Either party can terminate immediately without any repercussions.
It doesn't happen often - in my first spell in Finland (13 years) I only once saw an employee released during probation and I know of two employees who quit.

In practice some companies operate a last in / first out policy, so if it comes to reducing headcount (all too common these days), and you are still in your probationary period they can get rid of you with no questions, you have no comeback, and there will probably not be any severance pay. How often that actually happens in Finland, I don't know, however it happened to me in Italy (6 month probationary period over there).
That company started restructuring and reducing staff numbers within weeks of my arrival.
I don't know if they were being generous ... or whether then needed to keep me sweet as I was still needed in a project, but I got 5 months notice, that would not have happened in Finland.
Overall it didn't really make much difference to me as I would have quit at between 12 and 18 months - there was no chance of my wife finding work there.
Thankfully we didn't relocate fully as my wife was still working in Finland so there was not that much disruption.

Hindsight is a great thing after the event, if I would be in a similar position again (or in your position) I would ask for the trial period to be waived and a minimum two year contract, to make it worth my while to leave a stable job and change countries (or continents!). I would say directly that the risk is too great to relocate for what could turn out to be less than a 4 month contract.

If you want the Finnish job badly, it's a risk you'll have to accept. Or push back against it and risk losing the offer.
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pinemach
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Re: Trying to understand trial periods

Post by pinemach » Mon May 08, 2017 3:58 am

Hey, I really appreciate everyone's responses
sinikala wrote: Hindsight is a great thing after the event, if I would be in a similar position again (or in your position) I would ask for the trial period to be waived and a minimum two year contract, to make it worth my while to leave a stable job and change countries (or continents!). I would say directly that the risk is too great to relocate for what could turn out to be less than a 4 month contract.

If you want the Finnish job badly, it's a risk you'll have to accept. Or push back against it and risk losing the offer.
I wanted to reply to this to say that the contract is indefinite, so there's no problem negotiating length of employment. Anyway Finland would by all appearances be a much better and safer place for me to live, so I'm thinking beyond even two years here.

I ended up emailing them explaining my concerns and offering suggestions for how to conduct the trial period in a way that didn't involve so much financial risk for me. They've seemed like very reasonable people so far and I'm hoping to hear back soon, and hope to hear that they understand and are open to changing things so that it's a more acceptable risk on my part. I absolutely hate the prospect of turning this job down because I do want it badly, but if they don't budge it would just be too much and I couldn't take those terms. Though I know the likelihood of things going wrong is low, I could be placed into such a bad situation if I lost the job only shortly after fully committing myself and a very good chunk of my savings to relocation. I can't accept terms where there's a possibility of that happening completely arbitrarily.


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rinso
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Re: Trying to understand trial periods

Post by rinso » Mon May 08, 2017 7:23 am

I ended up emailing them explaining my concerns and offering suggestions for how to conduct the trial period in a way that didn't involve so much financial risk for me.
I don't know what you proposed, but it could be interpreted as if you're not fully committed or that you have doubts about your qualities in relation to the job. (In Finland we are not used at the ease that people can get fired in the US. And your concerns could be misunderstood.) Therefor they just might stick to the original deal (certainly since it is an indefinite contract).
Anyway, you throw the dice.


betelgeuse
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Re: Trying to understand trial periods

Post by betelgeuse » Mon May 08, 2017 1:37 pm

sinikala wrote: During the probation period they can get rid of you for any reason, irrespective of your performance.
The cause can not be, for example, discriminatory. There are cases where people have prevailed for compensation for trial period cancellation.
During the trial period, the employment contract may be cancelled by either party. The employment contract may not, however, be cancelled on discriminatory or otherwise inappropriate grounds with regard to the purpose of the trial period. The employer may not cancel an employment contract when it has neglected the obligation to inform laid down in subsection 3.
http://www.finlex.fi/fi/laki/kaannokset ... 010055.pdf


zoran
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Re: Trying to understand trial periods

Post by zoran » Tue Dec 05, 2017 2:29 am

I am in the same situations. I am not feeling comfortable to move in EU and work for Finland based company who offered me job as a experienced professionals for their need but under some 3 to 4 months probe period. Therefore, I would ask for contract knowing they do need my expertise. Moreover I am trying to find if salary of 7000euros/months , travelling 50% worldwide with net salary 3800Euros is worthy. I am trying to do research on expected salary for principal engineer in research and design in tyre industry holding two master degrees and 20 years experience. I am currently living in USA but always wanted go back to EU since I am EU citizen too, thus, I do not want to be in situations to paying 50% taxes and living without possibility for saving.
Regards


betelgeuse
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Re: Trying to understand trial periods

Post by betelgeuse » Tue Dec 05, 2017 4:09 am

zoran wrote:I am in the same situations. I am not feeling comfortable to move in EU and work for Finland based company who offered me job as a experienced professionals for their need but under some 3 to 4 months probe period. Therefore, I would ask for contract knowing they do need my expertise.
The trial period could be somewhat mitigated by, for example, living with a short term rental and keeping stuff in the US until it is over. This would be combined with agreeing to have some holiday when finally committing to the move at the end of the trial period.


Rick1
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Re: Trying to understand trial periods

Post by Rick1 » Tue Dec 05, 2017 3:13 pm

You are afraid of the start but please understand that job security here is not that much more then US. There are in many companies every year YT (negotiations or retirement plans, mostly the ones close to or over 50).


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