Kauss has helped Nordic companies to receive talented workers from non-EU countries. This post shares Miikka Vahtera's personal experiences and opinions about this special and unique industry.
Kauss expertise is with Ukraine and Belarus. Both countries have excellent workers who want to work in the EU. Even Ukrainian men are mainly defending their country on the battlefield now, many of them have been working in the EU before the war. Now Ukrainian female refugees are ready to work because they see that returning to Ukraine will take still many months or years. Belorussian workers are super motivated to work due to they will not ever return their home after leaving.
1. Teach your non-EU connections to obey all local rules and employer commitments
“Unfortunately posted workers' image is destroyed in Finland. For too long foreign workers were slaves in Finland living in sad conditions and getting low payments - like in Qatar. Luckily this has changed a lot in past years. Kauss has only delivered workers with 100 % Nordic work rules and payments. But to educate both Nordic clients and non-EU employees has been a journey”
(Miikka Vahtera, Sia Kauss Agency)
Sometimes non-EU workers can not understand the strong rules operated by labor unions and public authorities. They come to Finland to work - for them it is hard to understand why a work week is limited to 37.5 h a week. Or the cost of the labor will go super high for a client.
My personal experience is that Finland is the hardest market in the EU to be an employer. There are so many different rules to follow, and they are different in each sector. And there are more rules and sanctions every year. In Finland, each industry has its own "TES" - a contract that ALL companies must follow in that industry. I feel Finnish labor unions have been a lot stronger than employer associations for decades - so many rules that an employer must follow to be legally safe. Most likely these contracts have been agreed in saunas while counterparts have been 100% drunk - otherwise, the content of agreed issues is impossible to understand.
But these rules must be obeyed. Otherwise, there will be bad PR and extra costs for the final client, and nobody will buy again from a foreign company with a bad reputation.
A Finnish accounting company that speaks Russian is needed. Only they can calculate salaries and other employer responsibilities correctly. And be always ready to ask for help from your Finnish client's HR - they know all things from their TES. They want to help because they want all done the Nordic way.
One good tool is Vastuu Group's Luotettava Kumppani -report. A company can provide all data needed to follow the law just by collecting the data from different sources. However, in Finland "Luotettava Kumppani" is almost like a stamp by the government - even if it is not.
2. Netto salaries in Nordics are not super high
Too often non-EU workers think salaries in the North are super high. This might be true in Norway, but not in Finland. Brutto min salaries (ruled by TES, not by law) still start from 10-12 €/h in many industries. The Finnish tax system helps people with low income - often low-income workers pay limited or practically zero taxes. Usually, foreign workers come from countries where all pay the same portion of taxes from their income.
Especially talented workers in steel industries, HVAC, brick-laying, etc, get the same income in their home country as the minimum Finnish salary is ruled by TES. Rail Baltica is one of the biggest construction projects ever done in the EU. It will take all talented workers for years in countries where the cost of living is a lot less than in Nordics. When the war will end in Ukraine - sure all focus will be on rebuilding Ukraine with EU funds.
Nordic companies must be ready to pay more for talented workers and show the good qualities of a good employer.
3. Often the local language is not needed at the workplace
“Our internal process is not ready to take workers who do not speak Finnish (or English). Our clients require service in Finnish. The law requires Finnish-speaking workers.
(comments from potential client talks 2021-22 in Finland)”
Many jobs do not need everyday communication in Finnish. After good teaching and task cards with automated translations, almost all tasks can be performed in whatever language. In the metal industry, all tasks are anyway technical pictures and written terms are universal.
Clients are ready to get service in English. Finnish or Swedish is not required anymore.
Yes - for nursing and healthcare our local rules too often avoid getting help from foreign workers.
4. People who come to work do not need "kotoutuminen (paid integration programs)"
During the past months, I have seen requests from Finnish large companies to show "Paid integration programs" for incoming workers and their local management before starting to negotiate. Sure all this can be organized, but all these extra elements require more budget. A responsible agent who delivers foreign workers anyway helps incoming people to get all permits, EU-bank accounts, housing, local knowledge for living, etc.
People who come to work in the EU do not need these "kotoutuminen" services. They will learn the local language and culture themselves. Sure every person and company can help them locally as much as they can and want. Helping is a part of our great Nordic culture.