A leap from entrepreneurs to an employer
February is already coming to an end and the ski holiday weeks are upon us. Checkfin, however, is not taking holidays as the start of the year 2023 has luckily been very busy with work. So busy, that we are about to get an extra pair of hands to strengthen the team Checkfin! We dared to take the next step on the growth path and hire our first employee!
We already had some practice in this role when Heli-Marlee completed an internship with Checkfin last spring. Now, however, we can get down to business and we have already enthusiastically started preparations for the arrival of our employee; the laptop is waiting for installation, the sim card for the phone arrived in the mailbox and the orientation plan is in good shape.
There are many things that need to be taken into account and taken care of when hiring an employee. The easiest part was taking care of the statutory obligations, i.e. organising occupational health care, concluding an employment pension insurance contract and obtaining other required insurances. Making an employment contract already required a little more effort; determining the collective agreement to be followed and making sure that the contract has all the necessary information correctly recorded, required a deeper understanding of the issues.
Agreeing on practical matters and creating common rules should be thought through carefully in advance, so that these small but important everyday matters do not cause major problems later. How to arrange holidays and holiday pay, how many days you can be on sick leave with your own notice, how flexible working hours are arranged, whether exercise benefits are offered, how to take care of well-being at work and the atmosphere when everyone works in different locations, and so on. The list of things to think about is long!
However, our leap to the new is softened by the fact that a suitable employee was found in our own network and is already familiar to both of us. We are extremely excited and can't wait for March 🤩
Co-founder & Partner
The turn of the year
The year is changing. One must learn from the past, but at the same time look into the future. What has happened at Checkfin in its first full year?
We have published five new training courses, one of which is completely free. We have improved the contents of our trainings, with the help of feedback from those who have completed our trainings; thanks to all those who gave us invaluable feedback. We revamped our online store and definitely made it look more professional. We published video series Ask an expert and About the right to work on social media. We wrote 12 blog posts and created a Glossary section on our website with industry terms explained.
We believed, we believed and once more we believed in our own doing. Even when the faith seemed to be running out, we took turns in creating faith in each other. Fortunately for us, others saw our potential too and we hit the ground running. Now it's already much easier to smile and the future looks promising. We have already realised part of our dream, that is, we have been able to pay ourselves salaries through our company.
We also invested in well-being at work; in May we hiked in Seurasaari and did a sailing day trip in the Helsinki archipelago. Two weeks ago we celebrated the beginning of the holiday season by having a Christmas party.
On new years eve, we write our wishes for the coming year on paper and seal them inside envelopes. We will only see those wishes again at the end of 2023. We also finally get to read again the wishes we made for 2022. We are looking forward to seeing if they have come true, or if there is still work to be done for them to realise, in the new year?
Thank you all the readers, supporters and partners from 2022 and we wish you the most brilliant coming year 2023!
Co-founder & Partner
(text translated from Finnish by Marika Barrett)
Improving performance at work with the help of a Holiday
The week before the holiday has been full of work. I want to get all the work done, so there is nothing left for me to worry about while on holiday. I don't even have time to set the mood for the beginning of the holiday in advance, because my thoughts are still fully on getting things done. The last day before going on holiday, I almost feel like I'm in some kind of hyper state. When all the work I planned to do is finished, I feel relieved. After the relief, a small feeling of longing creeps in and the feeling that no, I don't want to go. I want to stay home and be with my loved ones. I sleep through the night. In the morning, I feel rested and really look forward to the adventures ahead, let's go!
In the last few years I have consciously reduced my travel, so it is exciting to be able to visit a completely different culture, far away from home. The honeymoon starting now feels more exciting than any other trip ever before. Although it is our honeymoon, it is also an important recovery time and a break from work. Working life is often so absorbing and even if there is no conscious stress, the brain is still working at all times. A reset is definitely more than welcome.
I'm currently writing this while travelling, and I’m going to continue to share my thoughts after the holiday when I return to work. I'm going to reflect on how the time off has calmed my mind and why it's definitely worth taking a holiday. Work matters are strictly forbidden for both me and my husband, so now I will stop writing and return to the subject after piña coladas and diving trips. Here's to a nice trip!
Serene and renewed feeling. Like having been gone for a month. Have I ever been as free from thinking as I am now? It's like my thoughts have been at a standstill all week, completely quiet. It is true that sometimes you have to look far to see near. After the holiday, I suddenly see my current life situation in a whole new light. I even got to rejoice in my entrepreneurship, because I almost forgot that I am a partner in a company. So I get to fulfil one of my dreams, wonderful!
In order to do well at work, you also have to know how to disengage from it. To identify oneself without work. To achieve this, I was helped by the ever more delicious meals, water sports and numerous tennis games. The delicious cocktails certainly played a part in creating the happy mood. Immersing myself in literature instead of the social media and flood of news made me dive into the secrets of my own imagination.
I feel that I have strength again both for work and for other activities in life. It was probably the best holiday of my life. I believe that I succeeded in improving my ability to cope at work with the help of holiday and rest. But even though I enjoyed being away, it was also great to come back. Home Sweet Home.
Co-founder & Partner
(text translated from Finnish by Marika Barrett)
Updating the look of our online store
We are currently working on renewing the look of our online training platform. When we started producing trainings, the online training platform we chose was new to us. We didn't know yet what kind of opportunities it could offer. However, we had to immediately decide how we would present our products in the store; whether we create a product view or a course catalogue. Our selection did not only include online trainings, but the purpose was also that the consulting service could be purchased directly from the online store. This is why we chose the product view. We consulted the platform's service provider and we agreed that the product view was the best choice for our products.
We published the first online training about a year ago. Since then, our training selection has grown to cover six different trainings. We have chosen the topics of our trainings according to the needs of our customers and in which we specialise in as experts. These include e.g. responsibilities and obligations in construction activities in Finland, checking the right to work in Finland and the Finnish liability act. Currently, basic and advanced level trainings are available on the Finnish liability act, and online trainings can be completed individually or as a package. It is also possible to complete the basic training on the Finnish liability act as a webinar led by an instructor. Choosing the product view for the platform also supported the presentation of webinars better than the course catalogue.
Because we chose the product view, the content of the training did not show in the store. So the interested buyer did not see the content of the training in advance before purchasing. We recently went through development opportunities for the presentation of the services we offer in the online store with the platform provider. Based on our needs, the platform provider ended up developing the store so that it serves better the presentation of different product groups in the future.
We feel that now is a great time to update the look of the online training platform. After more than a year of use, we have formed a picture of what possibilities the platform has and what we want from it. We came to the conclusion that the reformation is needed and we definitely want to use the platform's full potential. Continuous improvement is important, and especially when starting a company, it is essential to monitor the development of the company’s operations and to identify unused opportunities that support the business.
After the reform, the content structure of the online trainings will remain mainly the same, but the look of the online store will be completely updated. In the future, it will be easier to view our products and to purchase them with an invoice or directly from the online store. It is also possible for companies to purchase trainings customised to their needs, for example, their employees can register without visiting the online store by filling out a customised registration form. We are looking forward to how the new look will boost our business and how our existing customers will experience the updates.
Tax number requirement to the shipbuilding industry
As of July 1, 2022, the requirement for a Finnish tax number and registration of the tax number in the public tax number register, known from the construction industry, was extended to the shipbuilding industry. With this reform, the employer exercising main controlling power in the shipyard area has now new, significant obligations to fulfill. All employers also have obligations.
Every employee working in the shipyard area must now have a Finnish tax number, regardless of the nationality or country of origin of the employee or the employer company, or the duration of work at the shipyard. The tax number must also be registered in the public tax number register. The Finnish Tax Administration maintains one public tax number register, where it is possible to register a tax number either for the shipbuilding sector or for the construction sector. If you work in both fields, the tax number must be registered separately for both sectors!
The employer exercising main controlling power in the shipyard area must keep an up-to-date list of all employees and self-employed persons working in the shipyard area. This information must be kept for six years, counting from the beginning of the year following the end of the current calendar year. The up-to-date list must include the employee's name, date of birth, tax number, start and end date of working in the shipyard area, name of the employee's employer and business ID or equivalent foreign
identifier, as well as the name and contact information in Finland of the representative of the company posting employees to Finland. It is the responsibility of each employer to provide this information about their own employees to the employer exercising main control.
The employer exercising main controlling power must ensure that every person working in the shipyard area has a visible ID when working in the shipyard area. The ID must contain the person's name, tax number, photo, information on whether it is an employee or self-employed person, and information on the employer. It is the responsibility of each employer to take care of the use of the identifier for their own employees and also for their contracting partners.
This operating model aimed at combating the gray economy has been in use on shared construction sites for almost ten years. A section has now been added to the Occupational Safety and Health Act, in which the shipyard area is also considered a shared construction site when the new construction or repair of merchant shipping vessels or official vessels of 24 meters or longer is carried out. The Occupational Safety and Health Authority has said that they will start implementing inspections at the shipyards towards the end of the year.
Co-founder & Partner
I participated in a slightly different kind of project this summer, as Marianja got married and I got to be one of the bridesmaids. We came to a conclusion though, that a wedding can be thought of like any other project; first initiation and planning, then execution and finally closure.
In the initiation phase, the goal and the desired end result are to be defined. Big or small wedding, church or civil ceremony? Shall we make it ourselves or buy as much ready-made as possible? Party venue, food, drinks, decorations, program, outfits and so on, there are so many things to think about. Many people already have an idea of what kind of wedding they want for themselves. From the point of view of the project management, it is easier if the couple is sharing a similar view, or if necessary, are capable of compromising. This is important, to avoid falling into the first pitfall right at the beginning of the project.
Once the main outlines have been drawn up, the actual planning begins. The planning phase includes preparing a budget and schedule. A good old Excel spreadsheet works great as a tool, shared among all the key people in the project. Requests for tenders are also sent during the planning phase; party venue, photographer, band, whatever each wedding couple ends up ordering as an outsourced service. In the planning phase, it is also good to make sure that everyone involved in the project understands the goal and the execution plan; the tasks and responsibilities to be performed are recorded in the project plan, and the responsible persons are named. In this way, one more pitfall is avoided, when there won’t be that famous "someone" who has not performed their duties.
Initiation and planning are the most time-consuming steps in a wedding project. The duration of these phases varies, depending on the project, from a few months to even years. The execution phase usually takes only one day. Aristotle's famous statement "Well planned is half done" applies very well in a wedding project. In the execution phase, the project is just carried out according to the plan, and the better the planning work is done, the more likely all participants will enjoy themselves and the day will be a successful and memorable experience. However, the project management must accept that everything may not go exactly according to plan, and surprises and deviations must be prepared for. As long as the most critical tasks and responsibilities are clearly defined and they are adhered to, there is room for improvisation without the end result suffering.
Closing the wedding project involves various tasks, depending on the main outlines decided during the project initiation phase; cleaning the party venue, returning rented dishes, returning rented clothes, and so on. Giving thanks is an important part of closing a wedding project, and it applies to all wedding projects; thank the people who were involved in the project and also all the participants. Usual way is to send a wedding photo in the form of a thank you card, some time after the execution. Feedback is not collected, but an assessment of success is obtained immediately during the execution phase; lovely wedding, food was delicious, a great band, a beautiful bride and a handsome groom, a great day overall!
It was a pleasure and an honor to be a part of Marianja and Johan's important day, helping them make it the best possible, memorable life event ❤️
Co-founder & Partner
I am privileged
I am in a privileged position. I have been allowed to pursue my professional dream. When I decided to start a business with my good friend Marika, I took a conscious risk. I did not see starting a business with a friend would be a risk, but giving up my status as an employee. I’ve always been filled with entrepreneur spirit, so now that I have been an entrepreneur for a while, doing the work itself hasn’t changed in any way. There is more freedom, but also financial responsibility for it. Everything must be profitable.
Our goal is to create a company where we can pay salaries for Marika and me. The cosmetologist whose services I use, is an entrepreneur and she has been able to create a productive business for herself. We discussed the profitability of the business and she said it took about two years for the revenue to stabilise. Although the sector is different, stabilising the revenue will not happen in any sector in one night. So there has to be patience and the funding needs to be in order.
In the beginning, Marika and I both invested money from our own savings in the initial capital of the company. We were also aware that we could not take any salary from the company for several months, so the personal finances also had to be in order.
Several people have inquired whether we have applied for governmental subsidies for our operations. In the beginning, we found out, with the help of a professional, about all possible ways to fund our company's activities and also looked at support programs. The review revealed that it is not possible for a consultancy company like ours to receive subsidies and that most of the subsidies are granted to companies that have already overcome their difficulties in the beginning. The reality was that the only financial support that could be applied was the start-up money paid to entrepreneurs. However, I myself was not entitled to that money, but fortunately, it was granted to Marika. So the entrepreneurs really have to literally show what they are made of. Only then it is possible to apply for various governmental subsidies for the company. Subsidies are therefore available when they are no longer likely to be needed as much as they were in the beginning.
Although I was prepared for a change in my social status, some of the experiences changed how I see our society, especially how it treats entrepreneurs in the early stages of their business. However, I still feel privileged. I can work almost anywhere, anytime. Together with Marika, I can decide what kind of company we want to create. I have the opportunity to pursue my dream and I can do it without feeling anxious about the future. I still trust tomorrow and I see that my dream is on its way to come true.
Co-founder & Partner
Independent online learning during summer months
The work pace slows down during the summer in many workplaces while people are taking their summer holidays. In Finland, the main holiday months are June and July, while elsewhere in Europe it’s July and August. It’s a good idea to think which tasks the employees who stay in work during the summer months should focus on.
Summer time is the best time to focus on strengthening the skills of the employees, while the pace of work is perhaps a little calmer than during other seasons. Independent online training is becoming more and more popular and you can already study almost anything online. Studying at your own pace, exactly when it suits you is definitely a suitable option for everyone.
Flexibility and easy access are the biggest benefits of independent online learning. You can study on your smartphone, tablet or laptop as long as you have a good internet connection. Online learning is completely independent of time and place, you can study from anywhere in the world and at any time. Independent online learning is also effective, both in terms of cost and time. Even nature praises when the learning materials are in digital form without the need for printing.
Learning at your own pace online provides a great opportunity for different types of learners to absorb knowledge; one learns by reading, the other by listening, and the third by seeing. Modern learning platforms are interactive and allow for an inspiring and fun way to learn and absorb knowledge through a variety of tests and games. Most online courses offer a certificate to indicate that the training has been completed successfully.
As a pioneer, Checkfin has introduced the most common Finnish statutory obligations to be studied through independent online training. The range of trainings includes trainings related to the liability act as well as a training related to responsibilities in the construction operations. Most recently, we just released training on how to verify the right to work in Finland. We have taken different types of learners into account in the content of the trainings; the student may choose to read, listen to or view the material. Independent online learning is great for the summer’s to-do list!
Light entrepreneurship - good or bad?
Light entrepreneurship has recently made headlines in a negative light. Authorities have noticed that especially foreign workers may be “forced” into entrepreneurship without even realising it themselves! Employees think they are signing an employment contract, but it is in fact an entrepreneurial contract. Employees work under the supervision of the buyer in the jobs assigned to them, using the buyer's tools, in which case the conditions correspond to the characteristics of the employment relationship. However, the buyer does not fulfill the obligations of an employer, such as payment of pension and occupational health care, and no collective agreement applies to the employees. In order to be an entrepreneur or a light entrepreneur, entrepreneurship must be genuine. Genuine entrepreneurship means that an entrepreneur works independently for earning purposes and manages and supervises their own work themself.
Light entrepreneurship is advertised as a risk-free and flexible way to try entrepreneurship: no fixed costs, no start-up costs and no bureaucracy. Invoicing works through an invoicing service company without the official status of an entrepreneur and the income is taxed progressively as earned income.
One can work as a light entrepreneur independently or through an invoicing service company. A light entrepreneur may or may not be registered as an entrepreneur and operate with or without a business ID. A light entrepreneur can have a formal employment contract or invoicing contract with the Invoicing service company. A light entrepreneur must take out an entrepreneur's pension insurance if earnings exceed EUR 8,261.71 per year and the activity lasts for at least four months. A light entrepreneur may also become liable to VAT. There are licensed industries where it is not possible to work as a light entrepreneur and the unemployment benefit for a light entrepreneur is not that straightforward, it depends on a number of factors.
No law in Finland recognizes light entrepreneurship. The term is well-established by now in general use when talking about people who are self-employed but without their own business. Light entrepreneurs are usually customers of invoicing service companies and charge for the work they do through the invoicing service. Invoicing service companies charge light entrepreneurs a percentual service fee and various additional charges. Minimum charges and insurance premiums also affect the amount left in the light entrepreneur's hands.
When ordering work from a light entrepreneur, liability documents and clarifications must be obtained. The invoicing service cannot provide documents and clarifications on behalf of the light entrepreneur. In most cases, a light entrepreneur does not have a business ID and the light entrepreneur is not registered in the prepayment register, the VAT register, the employer register, or the trade register. If the light entrepreneur does not have a business ID, the light entrepreneur will not be entered into the public tax debt register either, and the buyer must request a certificate of tax payment for the light entrepreneur himself.
From the point of view of responsible operations, light entrepreneurship is only suitable for part-time, occasional, and small-scale services, such as earning from one's own hobby!
Right to work in Finland
Finnish newspapers are increasingly writing about the negligence of the foreign workforce. Employers are not verifying their workers' right to work in Finland properly. Is this due to ignorance or willful negligence? Ignorance is not reason enough for the authorities. Employers of the foreign workforce and the principal contractors of a construction project must be aware of the obligations and act accordingly.
When verifying the right to work in Finland, citizenship is the most important factor. The citizenship of a foreign employee is something other than Finnish. However, it is important to note that there are foreign employees as well as foreign employees who are posted workers. The term posted worker refers to a foreign employee who is sent to work in Finland for a limited period of time. The employer of such an employee does not normally conduct business in Finland. The obligation to ensure the right to work also applies to posted workers.
The employee's employer and the principal contractor of a construction project are responsible for checking the foreign employees' right to work in Finland. A foreign employee may start work when
the employee has the right to work in Finland based on citizenship,
the employee has a valid residence permit entitling work in Finland, or
the employee is a posted worker to whom an exception to the Aliens Act applies.
If the foreign employee is a posted worker who is not a citizen of an EU or EEA country, in addition to the residence permit entitling work, the principal contractor must ensure that the employee is a permanent employee of the posting company. Establishing the status of employment is not easy. In practice, the information is available in the employee's employment contract, but the employer company or the employee may not want to disclose the employment contract in its entirety to a third party. The employment contract may contain information that is not justified to be provided to the principal contractor. The employment contract may also be written in a foreign language and would require translation in order for the principal contractor to understand its content. Instead of an employment contract, the principal contractor may, for example, request a written certificate from the posted worker's employer. In the written certificate, the employer company confirms that the employee is a permanent employee of the company. In addition, the company confirms that the contract with the employee has been in force before the work in Finland and will continue after the work in Finland.
The most important thing to remember is that the right to work must always be checked in the case of a foreign employee. The documents and clarifications must be stored and be available for possible official review. By complying with the obligations, the company acts responsibly and can avoid ending up in the headlines of the news.
Internship at Checkfin
I started my business studies internship at Checkfin in November 2021 with an open and positive mind. Until now, I had focused mainly on family and studies, so I was really looking forward to the internship! It is important to be able to put into practice the theories learned in school, but for me, the main goal was also to understand the content of Checkfin's services in relation to the Finnish statutory requirements.
Before working at Checkfin, I was on parental leave so it’s been a while since my previous job. Because of this, changes in working practices were expected. I knew that the role of social media in marketing has grown, and digitalization and working remotely are the words of the day. So how to succeed working as a trainee?
Digitalization is changing the requirements for learning. In order to work smoothly, it is good to know how to operate various digital tools. The orientation I got at the beginning of the internship gave me the tools to work in various ways and enabled me to work remotely as the internship progressed.
At the very beginning of the internship, my understanding of the work done by Checkfin expanded quickly. I was given a task to transform the Contractor’s Obligations and Liability in practical terms online training into webinar form. Although I have no previous experience in the construction industry or any other similar industries, after completing Checkfin’s practical online trainings, I realized the importance of statutory requirements. Because the online trainings are built in an easy-to-understand format, trainings are suitable for students who are just learning the ways of the construction industry as well as for professionals in the field for whom the law gives grey hair.
I updated Checkfin's social media and created the visual look of the co-operation website Finnishtraining.com. Indeed, social media has an enormous importance today, especially in marketing. A great way to increase a company's visibility, but it takes a lot of time and effort. I quickly realized how updating and creating content for social media form a big part of the company’s operations.
My internship at Checkfin has been very rewarding. I have been doing a variety of different tasks and have been given free rein to work on things. I feel that I got a good idea of what is required by the Finnish Liability Act. I am also grateful for the opportunity to work remotely, which helped a lot in running everyday life. Thank you Marika and Marianja, it has been a joy to be part of the team!
Business and Admin Trainee
(text translated from Finnish by Heli-Marlee Rajala, Marianja Rajala and Marika Barrett)
How to check and verify Liability act documents?
“Our Liability Act issues are well taken care of, they are handled automatically through a private service provider and are integrated into our own system.”
This is often the answer when asking companies how the Liability Act issues are handled in their company. This sounds good in general, but on closer inspection not so. Excessive automation can turn out to be costly if facing a negligence fee.
A report issued by a private service provider may give you an OK status, even if all the necessary information can not be found in the report. For example, a collective agreement might not be named but instead, a company states that it will comply with the provisions of the Employment Contracts Act and the Working Hours Act. However, according to the Liability Act, this is not enough and the principal terms of employment applicable to the work must be provided. It is also possible that a company has temporarily hired a workforce for a project, but is not registered with the employer register. In this case, there may not be employee-specific information available in the report, but the report status shows that everything is fine.
When checking the documents and clarifications, it is important to understand what is being checked and why. The documents and clarifications must always be obtained before the contract is concluded and documents must be less than three months old. If you are unsure whether a Liability check is required or not, it is advisable to do it. You can also always ask the supervising authority for advice.
You can check if a company is registered to different registers and their tax payment status free of charge in The Business Information System (ytj.fi). An extract from the Trade Register can be purchased from the Finnish Patent and Registration Office (PRH) or requested directly from your contracting partner. Other clarifications must be requested from the contracting partner.
The documents and clarifications must be kept for at least two years after the end of the work on the contract. The documents and clarifications can be stored electronically or as hard copies, but the most important thing is that they are immediately available for possible inspection. If it comes out later that documents and clarifications were not collected before the contract was concluded, it is advisable to do so as soon as the deficiency is noticed.
We are living in the golden age of automation, but not everything can or should be automated. It is important to understand that certain things require a review by a real person instead of a machine.
Statutory requirements as part of studies
It is important to include the right operating models for compliance with statutory requirements as part of studies. It is the duty of educational institutions to provide the highest quality and up-to-date education for their students. Today, compliance with statutory requirements plays a major role in all work, so the inclusion of the right operating models in the degree program is the foundation of an up-to-date degree.
When students enter the working life, it is possible for them to bring updated knowledge into the work community. In this way, outdated practices can be updated and the safety and quality of the work community evolve, making operations more responsible. It is often thought that those who arrive from the school bench learn everything they need from more experienced colleagues, but learning should happen both ways. When long experience and enthusiasm for something new meet, it is possible to find better ways to operate.
Getting to know the statutory requirements already at school helps to understand how the requirements relate to the overall picture. Students learn to plan and execute their work so that requirements are taken into account at all stages of the work. This reduces the risk of fines and reputational damage. At the same time, the extra administrative workload is reduced. A professional will also understand and take into consideration the impact of statutory requirements on scheduling and resourcing.
Future professionals are expected to be aware of the statutory requirements from the first day of work. However, in employment, the employer also has a responsibility to maintain the skills of its personnel. The responsible actor trains its employees regularly and creates opportunities for development at work. When a person adopts the right ways of working already during their studies, it is easier to maintain and develop them in working life as well. You're never too old to learn!
Obligations of foreign companies operating in Finland
Before going for the Christmas holidays, I published a thesis on my business studies, which deals with the topic: Obligations of the Liability Act and the Posting of Workers Act for foreign companies at different stages of work in Finland. Checkfin acted as the commissioner of the thesis, and the aim of the thesis was to study the obligations of foreign companies at different stages of their work in Finland. The aim was also to find out what obligations and requirements have been defined in the Liability Act and the Act on the Posting of Workers to Foreign Companies. The topic was examined for all industries.
Foreign companies that post their employees to work in Finland are usually ordered to do work as subcontracting or temporary rental work. In those cases, the Liability Act obliges the company ordering the work (buyer) and the company performing the work (contracting partner) to perform certain checks before concluding an agreement. The Posting of Workers Act applies to employees who are posted from another country to work in Finland through subcontracting, leasing, or internal company transfer.
I have been working in the construction and energy industry for eight years and during that time I have become very familiar with the obligations imposed by different laws in the construction industry or similar activities in Finland. I’m deep in the subject and at first, it was difficult to break away from dealing with it from a general perspective instead of a construction perspective. At first, I thought that since I know the obligations imposed by these laws in practice, it would be easier to do the research work. But in the end, dealing with the subject from a general perspective without a more specific area, proved more challenging. Having the knowledge of how the laws are applied in practice had to be put to the background for a moment, in order to highlight in the theoretical part the obligations as defined by law. In reality, the inspectors of the supervising authority always interpret the law and issue statements on a case-by-case basis. As a result, guidance on compliance in practice is not always simple. Although I had a strong background at the beginning of my research, a learning process took place during the research process, and my expertise in the subject deepened further.
In the conclusion of the research work, it can be stated that the management of a foreign company needs to pay attention to the obligations imposed on the foreign companies, defined in Finnish legislation, and at which stage of the work the legislative measures need to be performed. If the management of a foreign company would be aware of the legal scope in place in Finland and the dates related to the implementation of various measures, it would be possible for them to plan the resourcing of work to meet the real need.
As a product of the thesis, I compiled checklists for the management of a foreign company to be utilized in different stages of the work. Checklists can be used in all industries in Finland. Checklists help the management of foreign companies understand their obligations and guide them to act accordingly.
A topic for further research arose in the thesis; clarification of obligations for foreign companies operating in the construction sector in Finland. Checkfin's soon-to-be-launched online training Responsibilities and obligations in the construction industry in Finland address this need, and the online training course provides a comprehensive guide to the obligations in various areas of construction, including obligations for foreign companies. This online training course is a great continuation of my research.
Finally: The year 2021 is coming to an end, but looking at 2021, I am pleased with my achievements during it. I participated in the largest construction project in Finland and the project was successfully completed. I founded a company together with my business partner Marika. I graduated with a vocational degree in entrepreneurship and also got my thesis published. The year 2021 has been a great year in every way! I also believe that 2022 will bring good things to us all and we will learn something we have not been able to do before. After all, numbers 2 and 22 always brought me good luck. I want to wish everyone a very awesome year 2022!
Ps. If you are interested and want to read my thesis, here is a link to it (it is written in Finnish): https://www.theseus.fi/handle/10024/512973
A Finnish tax number is required for all persons working on a shared construction site
Did you know that a shared construction site is an area where at least two different companies work at the same time? In Finland, everyone working on a shared construction site must have a Finnish tax number and the tax number must be registered in the public tax number register. The requirement also applies to foreigners and employees posted to Finland from abroad. However, all Finns automatically have a tax number. If you do not know your own tax number, you can check it from the Tax Administration's MyTax online service or by contacting the Tax Administration by phone.
Although Finns already have a tax number, it has not been automatically registered in the public tax number register. This is something that is often left undone and is noticed usually just before work begins on site while applying for a site access pass. Fortunately, registration can be done by several parties: the principal contractor, the employer, or the employee themself, for example by calling the Tax Administration's tax number service. The employee can also register the tax number electronically via MyTax online service.
It is good to remember that the registration is only valid for two (2) years or as long as the person is actively working on a shared construction site that is reported to the Tax Administration on a monthly basis. In case of doubt, you can check if you belong to the tax number register on the Tax Administration's tax number register check -function on their website by entering the person’s full name (first name and last name) and tax number into the register.
In the case of a foreign person who has not previously worked in Finland, the tax number and its registration are applied for by physically visiting the tax office. At the moment, because of the coronavirus pandemic, a simplified procedure is in place and it has been possible to apply for a tax number electronically. The simplified procedure is in place until 31 March 2022. Despite the simplified procedure, some of the applicants for the tax number have ended up physically visiting the tax office.
When applying for a tax number, it should be noted that not all tax offices can issue a tax number. It is advisable to check in advance the nearest tax office that can issue the tax number. Some offices offer an appointment for groups of more than five (5) people, but not all. The operating model should be checked with the tax office in question.
To obtain a tax number, the applicant must visit the tax office in person. The forms for applying for a tax number must be completed and the person must have other required documents with them. In connection with the application, the registration of the tax number in the public tax number register must be requested if the person works in an area classified as a common construction site.
If the applicant does not speak Finnish or English, it is advisable to bring a person who can help with interpretation. Tax administration staff are multilingual, but it may not be possible to get the service in all languages.
The tax number exists automatically
The tax number must be registered in the public tax number register
Foreigner or employee posted to Finland
The tax number must be applied for in person
The tax number must be registered in the public tax number register
Tips for foreigners and posted workers when applying for a tax number:
Find out from the Tax Administration website the nearest tax office that issues tax numbers and their office opening hours (tax offices are only open on weekdays). Book an appointment with the tax office if possible.
If it is not possible to make an appointment, it is advisable to visit the tax office first thing in the morning to avoid the queues.
Fill out the application forms in advance before visiting the tax office (however, do not sign) and bring other required documents with you.
If you don’t speak Finnish or English, it is advisable to bring a person who can help with interpretation.
If you work in an area that is classified as a shared construction site, apply for registration in the public tax number register.
The transaction takes about 5-30 minutes/person.
As a general rule, the tax number should be obtained during the visit, but no later than the same day. In some cases, it may take longer to issue a tax number, for example, if the person has previously worked in Finland and is not sure if they already have a Finnish tax number.
Liability Act in Finland since 2007
The Liability Act has been in force in Finland since January 2007. It is starting to be a familiar thing now to many of us. Compliance with the act is often associated with the construction industry, although it applies to almost all industries.
If work is performed at the buyer's premises or site, the requirements of the act must be complied with. However, if the limit values specified in the act are not exceeded, the Liability Act does not need to be applied. In subcontracting work, the limit values are determined by the monetary value of the order, while in rental work, the limit value is determined by the duration of the work.
Ordering equipment with installation work carried out at the buyer's premises included, is often not understood as work where Liability Act applies. Do pay special attention to such orders to avoid negligence fees. The number of different documents and clarifications needed and the time it takes to gather it all may come as a surprise to foreign companies. They may not have been aware and able to take into account the time needed for administrative work at the bidding stage. It is not nice having to explain the increased costs to the contractor or the buyer.
It is very important for those who work in procurement to be familiar with the requirements of the Liability Act and the operating procedures of the supervising authority. It is always a good idea to find out about the requirements in advance and strengthen the responsible operations of the company.
I have come across a number of situations where companies have an idea that their liability matters are handled well and correctly. However, a deeper examination of the situation has revealed negligence in the document review processes and in the competence of staff. If the operating models of the company are not clear and consistent, staff may start doing things their own way.
For this reason, it is important to first understand what is required by the Liability Act and how it affects the company's operations. Then it is possible to establish a good process and implement it in use for the company's personnel. Using practical methods is important when training the personnel; the examples used need to be close to everyday work, that way what is learnt can be incorporated into day-to-day operations.
My recommendations for managing liability issues:
Compliance with the Liability Act is largely based on preliminary work done well. Invest in clarifying operating models, developing staff skills, and always have an open line of communication with the supervising authority. If you are unsure about the correctness of the policies, do not hesitate to check with the authorities.
Anticipation is wisdom that often also makes things easier and more prosperous. Both mentally and physically, from the perspective of the liability act and also other perspectives.