A proposal drawn up by a ministry task force would grant employees access to the pay data of their colleagues if they suspect they are discriminated against based on their gender. (Heikki Saukkomaa – Lehtikuva)


A TASK FORCE at the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health has presented a proposal for promoting wage transparency at workplaces in order to prevent gender-based pay discrimination, reports Helsingin Sanomat.

The task force presented its report to Minister of Nordic Co-operation and Equality Thomas Blomqvist (SFP) on Monday.

One of the main proposals set forth in the report is that employees be able to request the pay data of their colleague or colleagues if they suspect they are discriminated against based on their gender. Their employer would not be allowed to deny the request.

Employers would additionally be obliged to submit a report on the reimbursement system and its implementation to their staff every year, while chief shop stewards and other employee representatives would be granted access to the exact pay data of employees whenever the employer is conducting a pay survey in accordance with the equality act.

The task force estimated that the amendments could be introduced to the equality act in the first half of 2023.

Helsingin Sanomat on Monday reported that the work of the task force was discordant from the very beginning.

The Federation of Finnish Enterprises, Local Government and County Employers (KT) and Labour Market Organisation of the Church attached a dissenting opinion to the report, voicing their opposition to the proposals. The employer organisations viewed that the proposals would augment the administrative burden of companies and undermine the protection of employee privacy.

“The legislative amendments proposed by the ministry would unlikely lead to an improved workplace climate but rather to an up-tick in jealousy and prying. The legislative amendments could lead to the unfair equalisation of wages, as employers would not dare to reward employees for personal skills and results out of fear of unfounded disputes over discrimination,” wrote Katja Leppänen, a specialist at EK.

Trade unions, on the other hand, were supportive of increasing wage transparency even further.

The Central Organisation of Finnish Trade Unions (SAK), for example, viewed that the proposal would not make it easy enough for individual employees to look into possible pay discrimination, as it would be difficult to suspect it without knowledge of the wages and the grounds on which they are paid at the workplace.

“The task force was unable to answer this,” said Anu-Tuija Lehto, a legal advisor at SAK. “Our answer is that wage data should be made visible to everyone at workplaces. This is already a practice at a couple of companies.”

The Finnish Confederation of Professionals (STTK) and Confederation of Unions for Professional and Managerial Staff (Akava) similarly gauged that the proposal would not increase employee access to pay information sufficiently. The pay surveys, they pointed out, are carried out only in companies with a headcount of at least 30, meaning the employees of smaller companies would remain in the dark.

Aleksi Teivainen – HT