Obligations related to recruiting a new employee

Arja-Irene Tiainen

In the autumn 2017, the project SMErec (New generation recruitment skills for small and medium-sized enterprises and workforce) provided training for entrepreneurs on how to encounter a new employee and how to handle the obligations related to hiring a new employee. The training was conducted twice; once in October and once in November, each with a similar content. The duration of the training was three hours at both times. Both sole traders and entrepreneurs who have already recruited employees in their companies attended the training.

The training focused on a situation where a new employee has just been hired. What are then the following actions to be taken? The content of the training included the following themes:

  • How to start an employment relationship?
  • Signing an employment contract
  • Occupational health care and health check-ups for new employees
  • Duration and significance of the trial period
  • Introducing new employees with their duties
  • Reserving time for supervision work

The core content of this training for entrepreneurs included the various issues and obligations needed to be considered when recruiting the first employee, some of them based on the law. Another key idea of the training was to make the entrepreneurs more aware of occupational health care, the Employment Contracts Act, the Workers’ Compensation Act, and other statutory matters related to working with a new employee and starting an employment relationship.

A key factor to be considered with a new employee is how to introduce him/her with the new duties. Therefore, the entrepreneur must provide the new employee with sufficient information based on the employee’s professional competence and previous professional experience. It is also the employer’s responsibility to introduce the employee with the occupational safety regulations and with the compliance of these regulations at that particular job. Identification and prevention of occupational safety risks is also part of this introduction process. In addition, the employee must manage the rules, regulations and instructions for the different situations at work and the measures to be taken in each situation. Providing systematic guidance and introduction to one’s duties is important in order to ensure that the work will be properly done. From the entrepreneur’s point of view, it is also essential how soon the new employee will be able to perform his/her duties s/he has been hired to do as well as possible.

Mentoring can be seen as one of approaches of introducing a new employee with the duties and with the workplace. An experienced employee at the workplace and the new employee form a mentor and mentee couple. The orientation takes place at the same time when conducting the daily routines at work, and the new employee gets simultaneously familiar with the work community. This kind of a mentoring process can be significant for both the mentor and the mentee and both can learn from the process.

One of the topics discussed in the training was the companies’ need for having orientation programmes for new employees. The orientation program would emphasise the duties and other issues the new employee needs to manage quickly in the new job and mention the duties and issues that can be managed later. Companies could have a longer-lasting orientation plan that would be available for employees at the company’s website or elsewhere in electronic form. The practical arrangements during the orientation process were also discussed in the training. There were also discussions on companies with several employees where everyone has their own ways of advising and performing the duties. In such a situation, an inexperienced worker is often in conflict when receiving several types of instructions. It had been agreed in one of the participating companies that only one of the three mentors would introduce a new employee instead of all three, and it had been considered a good practice. Each employee will then later, after the orientation process, find his/her own way of performing the duties.

As to occupational health care, an entrepreneur in Finland who works as the sole employee in his/her company, can agree on the purchase of occupational health care services. The services are chargeable, but s/he can personally agree on suitable occupational health care services needed with the service provider. If the entrepreneur hires a single employee, s/he is obliged to provide the employee with at least preventive occupational health care. Occupational health care services are organised differently in different companies and the provider of occupational health care services will help the company in drawing up both a contract on services and an occupational health care plan. Occupational health care contracts in different companies have a great deal of disparity. Entrepreneurs are in a very different position as to whether the company can easily recruit employees or not. Would wide-ranging occupational health care services, for example, be one recruitment tool?

A health check-up for new employees should always be done, although it is not statutory in Finland. Then it is possible to check the new employee’s state of health at the beginning of his/her employment, and the health check-up report is a good document in case of any work-related illnesses appear later as a consequence of e.g. noise, air quality or other problems related to the work environment. Then the employee’s initial state of health can be easily checked and compared with the current state of health.

The employer’s rights were also discussed in the training. The Finnish Employment Contracts Act changed at the beginning of year 2017 regarding the trial period of new employees. The trial period changed from four months to six months and the pros and cons of this change were discussed with the entrepreneurs during the training. The entrepreneurs had mostly experienced this as a good change because it gives the entrepreneur the opportunity to follow the employee during a longer period of time and make sure s/he copes with his/her duties. The final month of the trial period gives the most important information to the employer. The entrepreneur must tell the length of the trial period to the employee at the beginning of the employment and it is also often written down on the employment contract. The purpose of the trial period for the employee is to give him/her the time to get acquainted with the duties and to experience the new workplace and the work community and at the same time consider whether s/he wants to work there or not.

Arja-Irene Tiainen, Principal Lecturer
Karelia University of Applied Sciences

 

Cover photo: https://perzonseo.com. CC BY 2.0