Finnish law prohibits discrimination in employment, including discrimination against applicants. The prohibition of discrimination applies to the entire recruitment process during recruitment: in the preparation of the job advertisement, the invitation to an interview, the selection of the employee and decisions on salary. A person who has suffered discrimination in recruitment has the right to claim compensation for discrimination from the employer via the district court. Discrimination is not always a case of an employer’s intention or negligence.
Chapter 3, section 8 of the Non-Discrimination Act (1325/2014) prohibits discrimination on the basis of age, origin, nationality, language, religion, belief, opinion, political activity, trade union activity, family relationships, state of health, disability, sexual orientation, or other personal characteristics. Discrimination is when an applicant is placed in a different position with regard to the above factors. Positive action aiming to achieve real equality (§9) however, is permissible. The Equality Act (Act on Equality between Women and Men, 1986/609) prohibits discrimination in recruitment based on gender, gender identity or gender expression. According to the Act, discrimination also means that a person is placed in a less favourable position in recruitment on the basis of other gender-related reasons, such as pregnancy.
If selection in recruitment is based on, for example, gender, the reason must be justifiably related to the job. An acceptable reason may be, for example, choosing a man with less merits than someone of another gender for a male role in a film. Perfect Finnish language proficiency cannot be used as a selection criterion if the job does not require perfect Finnish language skills. In order to ensure non-discriminatory recruitment, it is essential to precisely define the selection criteria in advance, based on the requirements of the job. If the employer does not comply with the pre-determined selection criteria in their selection, the reason for this must be justifiable.
In addition to the Non-Discrimination and Equality Acts, the Constitution, Criminal Law, the Occupational Safety and Health Act, the Employment Contracts Act, the Act on the Protection of Privacy in Working Life, the Personal Data Act and the EU directives all apply to recruitment-related issues.
For more information, see:
Non-discrimination Act 1325/2014
Act on Equality between Women and Men 609/1986
Equality and discrimination in employment (Non-Discrimination Ombudsman)
Ombudsman for Equality
Gender equality (Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare)
Non-discrimination (Occupational Safety and Health Administration in Finland)