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Coronavirus information for construction professionals

The coronavirus has a significant impact on the work and family life of construction professionals. New coronavirus information and interpretations of the information appear daily. This news article outlines the most important facts in English. The latest updated information can be found on our website in Finnish.

This information was updated on 8 July 2021.

Illness and quarantine

I have a cough or other cold and flu symptoms. What should I do?

Do not go to work. Notify your employer of your illness in accordance with your workplace policy. Follow your employer’s instructions. If you need a sick leave certificate, it may be possible to obtain the certificate by telephone from your occupational health care or health centre.

I have been ordered into quarantine. What should I do?

Quarantine or isolation can only be ordered by a doctor responsible for infectious diseases in the municipality or hospital district in question. If you or your child under the age of 16 have been ordered into quarantine, notify your employer immediately.

Workers who are quarantined or ordered into isolation may be eligible for an infectious disease allowance.

Kela: Infectious disease allowance is available also to workers who are not covered under the Finnish National Health Insurance scheme

Caring for a relative

A relative is ill and needs me. What should I do?

If you are unable to go to work because your child over 10 years old, spouse or elderly parent is ill, come to an agreement with your employer on leave due to compelling family grounds. Your employer is not obligated to pay wages for this period of leave. Discuss the possibility of being laid off temporarily or using annual leave days with your employer.

In the construction industry, if a child under the age of 10 becomes ill, you are entitled to paid leave so that you can arrange childcare. This is subject to certain conditions. Check your collective agreement.

Travel abroad

I have returned to Finland from a trip abroad. What should I do?

Your employer may instruct you to stay at home for two weeks after your trip, for example. During this period, your employer must pay you wages in accordance with your shifts. If your employer refuses to pay your wages, contact your company’s shop steward or a Finnish Construction Trade Union official.

I returned from abroad and my employer wants me to come to work right away, even though the recommendation is to go into quarantine-like conditions for 14 days. What should I do?

The Ministry for Foreign Affairs of Finland recommends that anyone returning from abroad spend 10 days under quarantine-like conditions. You can find the instructions here. However, the employer is not obligated to follow the Ministry’s recommendation. If you nevertheless stay at home, your employer is not obligated to pay your wages. Discuss the possibility of staying at home with your employer, for example, being laid off temporarily or taking holiday leave.

I travel from Estonia to Finland for work purposes. Does the coronavirus situation affect my travel?

Travelling for work purposes is allowed.

For more information, please refer to the Finnish Governments website

Lay-offs and cooperation negotiations

I can’t work because my workplace is closed. What should I do?

If coronavirus prevents an employee from working, even if they are not ill or in quarantine, the employer has the right to reassign the employee to other work in accordance with the employment contract. In such cases, the employer shall pay wages as normal.

If the employer is not reasonably able to offer other work, they must provide a notice of lay-off before lay-offs begin.

I have been laid off by my employer. What should I do?

  1. Register with the TE Office on the first day that you are laid off. If you are laid off, register with the TE-office no later than on the first day that you are laid off te-palvelut.fi. The TE Office will provide a statement on the matter to the fund.
  2. Submit an application to the Unemployment Fund of the Construction Sector for daily allowance in two weeks. Once you have been laid off for two whole calendar weeks, submit a daily allowance application to the Unemployment Fund of the Construction Sector, preferably via eAsiointi. The fund will require you to attach to your application at least the lay-off notice and your wage slip for at least the 26 weeks preceding your lay-off.
  3. Submit an extension application every four weeks.

Other matters

The end client has ordered that face masks be worn on the construction site. Who will procure face masks for the site staff: the end client, the contractor (employer) or the site staff themselves?

Your employer is responsible for covering costs related to occupational safety and health, such as the purchase of face masks. The employer and end client agree shall separately agree which party is responsible for purchasing what items, but the costs cannot be passed on to the employees.

Hygiene is not taken care of at my workplace. There is no soap or hand sanitizer, despite staff having requested it. No other precautions have been taken. Workers with flu-like symptoms are being advised to stay in work if they are able to carry out their work duties. What are the responsibilities of the employer and supervisors, and what can I do?

It is the employer’s duty to ensure health and safety in the workplace: for example, by arranging adequate cleaning of the premises and ensuring that hand hygiene can be maintained with sufficient ease. In addition to the usual provisions made for washing hands, the employer should now also provide hand sanitizer for all workers to use throughout the site’s social areas. If the appropriate precautions are not being taken in your workplace, please contact the occupational safety and health representative of the company or the construction site. If such problems cannot be resolved on-site, please contact the Regional Office of the Finnish Construction Trade Union (Rakennusliitto).

The authorities are now instructing people not to go to work even if they only have a minor cold. Companies have been recommended to introduce a self-declaration procedure for all employees on sick leave and to extend this to at least 5 days. This recommendation is, however, employer-specific. If you need a sick leave certificate, it may be possible to obtain one by telephone from your occupational health care provider or a health centre.

The employer must arrange a sufficient number of high-quality social facilities for use by employees on the construction site . The premises must be cleaned daily and, if necessary, more often. This is also required under normal circumstances by the regulations on personnel facilities on construction sites (Työministeriön päätös rakennustyömaiden henkilöstötiloista, 977/1994).

The employer may advise that site staff change in and out of work clothes in the morning and at the end of the working day in a staggered manner to ensure that social distancing can be maintained in the changing facilities. Similarly, agreements may be made regarding the staggering of lunch hours and coffee breaks in social facilities. The safety distances between employees must be taken into account.

From the point of view of limiting the spread of the coronavirus and maintaining the ability of site staff to cope, the solution is not to limit the use of social spaces in such a way that meals are eaten outdoors or that work clothes are transported between home and work, with the result that as little time as possible is spent in social spaces. Site staff rest, wash, and dine in social spaces, not outdoors in the snow. Workwear is protective clothing and should be stored in the changing facilities in the site’s social spaces.

In these exceptional circumstances, the employer and the management must guarantee that employees are provided with safe social spaces in order to take breaks. In addition, the employer must supervise the safe use of social facilities. Of course, employees must also follow the instructions given.