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Government resolution helps prevent and combat labour exploitation in Finland

Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment
Publication date 9.3.2023 16.15
Press release

The Government has adopted a resolution on a strategy to prevent and combat labour exploitation. The strategy includes long-term objectives to help Finland respond more effectively to the exploitation of foreign labour. The objectives also support cooperation between the authorities and the inclusion of immigrants in the Finnish society.

Increasing work-based immigration will help Finland respond to the challenges caused by the changing demographic structure, including high dependency ratio, lack of skilled labour and increasing risks to sustainability of general government finances. At the same time as it aims to attract more foreign labour, Finland also needs to be better prepared for the negative phenomena related to immigration, such as human smuggling, trafficking and exploitation, as well as the growth of the shadow economy and financial crime.

“Eradicating labour exploitation is a precondition for promoting ethically sustainable work-based immigration. The strategy provides good guidelines for this work. The labour market must be fair to all,” Minister of Employment Tuula Haatainen says.

Finland prepares responses to new phenomena

In recent years, a record number of cases or suspected cases of work-related exploitation have been exposed in Finland. New forms of work also create new forms of labour exploitation. Finland must be ready to respond to any problems and harm, both now and in the future. With the strategy, Finland is committed to preventing and combating the exploitation of foreign labour. The objectives include:

  • ensure the operational preconditions for authorities involved in the prevention and combat of the shadow economy, financial crime and exploitation, and to improve cooperation between these authorities;
  • promote the identification and detection of exploitation and human trafficking, improve the position of victims of exploitation, and prevent the recurrence of exploitation,
  • promote the integration, settling-in and social inclusion of foreign workers arriving in Finland, 
  • strengthen corporate social responsibility of companies and contracting entities in preventing and combating the exploitation of foreign labour, 
  • improve the enforcement of criminal liability while ensuring the legal protection of the suspect.

According to the strategy, action against the exploitation of foreign labour is most effective when it is intersectoral and broad-based. In addition to addressing problems, it is important to introduce diverse measures to fight discrimination and improve participation of immigrants in society.

Outgoing Government focused on combating exploitation

“This Government has closely linked the prevention of labour exploitation to the promotion of work-based immigration. Broad-based cooperation between the authorities plays a key role in this effort. It is important that this work continues in the future,” says Haatainen.

An amendment to the Aliens Act entitles a victim of labour exploitation to resign from an exploitative employment relationship without losing the right to reside in Finland. During this Government term, improvements have been made to guidance and advice services of foreign workers and cooperation between the authorities, and resources have been increased. The risk-based processing of residence permit applications enables the Finnish Immigration Service to allocate its resources to those cases where the risk of labour exploitation is higher. The Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment appointed an advisory board to monitor and prepare measures against exploitation in 2021.

Investments in the investigation and detection of human trafficking are reflected in the rising number of exposed human trafficking cases. For example, a unit of the police that specialises in investigating human trafficking has exposed extensive labour exploitation. The measures are based on an action plan against human trafficking adopted in May 2021.  

An action plan is needed to achieve the objectives

The strategy was prepared by a division against labour exploitation of the above-mentioned advisory board, in which key public sector organisations, authorities, associations and labour market organisations are represented. Based on the strategy, the aim is to create a more detailed action plan against labour exploitation that would include responsibilities and schedules during the next government term.

Ariann Grandell, Senior Specialist, Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment, tel. +358 295 047 236
Emily Strohm, Special Adviser to the Minister of Employment, tel. +358 295 047 160
Venla Roth, Government Anti-Trafficking Coordinator, Ministry of Justice, tel.  +358 295 150 011