On 14 June a new Act will come into force in Finland that aims to strengthen the legal status of foreign berry pickers and lay down the obligations of companies in more detail and in more binding terms.
As foreign berry pickers have not been deemed to be in an employment relationship but instead to work as kind of entrepreneurs, their status has been unregulated from a legal point of view, the government explained in a press release.
The new Act lays down the rights of pickers of natural products, the obligations of operators in the field of natural product picking, the monitoring of compliance with these obligations and the penalties for their negligence.
As a new feature, the new Act includes an absolute ban on charging pickers for recruitment services and job training.
Government says this will "significantly improve the legal position of pickers invited from abroad." Operators in the sector also have a cooperation obligation to improve the picking results.
According to the new Act, operators in the natural product picking sector should also be reliable. And this reliability will be assessed based on compliance with the provisions of the Act.
In addition, the operator should have paid its taxes and charges in due course and be in the financial position to organise its business activities.
Ban unreliable operators
Obligation compliance reports produced by the Tax Administration and its Grey Economy Information Unit can be used to assess reliability.
"If the operator is not reliable, it cannot invite pickers to Finland, offer them accommodation or equipment with the aim of purchasing natural products picked by them," the government says.
The Act would not otherwise affect the status or obligations of companies purchasing natural products from pickers.
The occupational safety and health authorities will monitor compliance with the Act insofar as the monitoring is not the responsibility of another competent authority.
The Act does not apply to the entry or residence conditions of foreigners picking natural products.
The Act will apply when the work is not carried out in an employment relationship. If work is carried out in an employment relationship, employment legislation will apply as before.