Prevention from Performing Work
During the employment relationship situations arise that prevent an employee from performing his/her work. As a starting point, the employee is naturally under an obligation to be at the place of work at the agreed times and undertake the work. The need for absence can arise e.g. due to holiday, illness or study leave.
The employer is within certain limits obliged to pay the employee a salary also for the time when the performance of work is not possible. An employer may be prevented from performing work due to a reason attributable to the employee himself/herself, the employer or an external factor. The starting point is to establish whether the employee has a right to be absent from work and whether the employer is under an obligation to pay the employee a salary for that time. In addition, unpaid leaves such as maternity and parental leave may increase the employee’s annual holiday entitlement. Collective bargaining agreements usually set out provisions in respect of salaries for absences, which often include e.g. more favorable sickness pay than that provided for in the Employment Contracts Act.
If the performance of work is prevented for reasons attributable to the employer, the employee has a right to obtain a salary for the time the work is discontinued. Reasons attributable to the employer can be, for example, machine failures and maintenance, delays in raw material orders or other shortages in work organizing. The obligation to pay salary is not limited in any way. In principle it continues throughout the duration of the period the employee is prevented from undertaking work. The employer may, however, in most cases interrupt the obligation to pay the salary by laying-off the employee on the ground that work has decreased [2.3.8 Lay-offs]. However, the employer and employee may agree otherwise on the obligation to pay salary when the employee is prevented from performing work due to a reason that is attributable to the employer. The employer and employee may for instance agree to remove the employer’s obligation to pay salary or limit the period during which the employer is obliged to pay such. There might be exceptions to the paying duties also in the collective agreements.
If the employee is prevented from working by a fire, an exceptional natural event or another similar event affecting the workplace beyond the employer's control, the employee is entitled to pay for the period of the impediment, though not for more than a maximum of 14 days. If the impediment beyond the control of the parties to the employment contract is caused by industrial action by other employees which is independent of the employee's employment terms or working conditions, the employee is, however, entitled to pay for a maximum of seven days.