The government of Finland has taken decisive steps to end the labor exploitation of foreigners.
The imminent reform of the Aliens Act will reinforce the administration's power to deny residence permits when there is reason to believe that workers may be exploited. At the same time, protection and opportunities for victims to receive a work permit or to start a business will be strengthened.
The Government has proposed on 17 December that the Aliens Act be amended to "more effectively prevent the exploitation of foreign labour." According to the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment, the amendment aims to improve the detection of work-related exploitation and to improve the legal position of victims.
"Taking advantage of foreign workers amounts to economic exploitation. The purpose of the measures is to make life more difficult for the exploiter while providing protection for the victim," says Minister of Employment Tuula Haatainen.
As a result of legislative amendments, a worker’s residence permit may be refused if there are reasonable grounds to suspect that the employer or the sponsor intends to circumvent the provisions on entry or residence during the application process. The proposal would not affect the possibility of a foreigner to obtain a residence permit for another employer. The amendments would give the TE Office better opportunities to refuse workers’ residence permits.
Minister Haatainen thinks that "Increasing control prevents exploitation and protects the Finnish labour market from unfair competition."
"Later, the Ministry will also advise TE Offices on a more consistent use of recruitment bans. I want to temporarily stop recruitment from abroad by employers who have been found to exploit their workers," Haatainen adds.
Legal position of victims
If there are reasonable grounds to suspect that the employer of a foreigner working under a residence permit has significantly neglected his or her obligations as an employer or otherwise exploited the worker, the victim could be granted the right to work without a professional restriction or other restriction or to start a business.
Under the same grounds, the worker would also be entitled to a new fixed-term residence permit for the purpose of applying for a new job or starting a business.
"As long as the legal position of the victim is weak, the exploitation of foreign labour will remain a hidden phenomenon. By strengthening the victim’s right to work in this country, we will improve the ability of the authorities to detect this disgusting phenomenon and to intervene in it," Haatainen says.
In August, a cross-administrative working group led by the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment presented its measures to amend the legislation as well as other measures, which were adopted in the autumn budget session. The Government’s proposal to amend the Aliens Act is part of this package of measures.