Tour Two. Social Change.
Finland: A Good Place to Work
The cool thing about being a kid is that you don’t have to worry about making money or choosing careers. You can try out different things, learn new skills and leave the big decisions for later. Adults who pester you about what you want to be “when you grow up” may even annoy you.
But why not think about it for a moment? Just for fun.
What profession interests you? What do you consider important in a job?
The five professions that rank highest among 10-year-old Finnish children are computer engineer, medical doctor, pilot, actor, and athlete. When asked what they would value most in a job, the same children listed challenges, fun, teamwork and high salaries.
Did you know that working adults value the very same things?
Work places need to be safe and comfortable.Working hours should be defined and limited. Vacations, childcare, health services and retirement plans matter.
Mothers hope that their careers and salaries won’t suffer if they take time to have babies. Parents expect equal opportunity so they can care for sick children. People want to be hired for their skills, not because of their age, faith or ethnic background.
That is where lawmakers are needed to create rules. It’s not easy when expectations are high. In some countries, for example, lawmakers believe that women should stay home because they can be physically weaker than men.
In Finland, women want to work, so lawmakers have tried to create rules that protect them in the workplace. Every country resolves these issues in its own way.
Finland has come up with a system called the Welfare Society that requires the state to care for its weakest citizens. This gives kids lots of rights!
For example, kids get education, day care and healthcare free of charge or at low cost. They also have the right to have their parents at home when they are small or sick. And employers must protect parents while they work.
Some of the laws and customs in Finland and the United States are similar:
- Regular workdays are 8 hours per day, or 40 hours per week
- People have the option to work from home
- People can adjust their work hours to their family’s needs with “flex-time” (working shorter hours in the day/
working from home)
Other laws and customs are very different in Finland:
- University education is free of charge for everyone
- Municipal childcare is inexpensive
- Employees receive five weeks of paid vacation per year
- Families receive a child allowance of about 90 dollars per month per child until their children turn 16
- Mothers are entitled to partly paid maternity leave for 11 months
- Fathers are entitled to partly paid paternity leave for 18 days
- Parents have a right to family leave until their children turn three
When a Finnish baby is born, his or her mother receives maternity leave. The majority of Finnish fathers also take paternity leave for 18 workdays. Once the mother’s maternity leave ends, the parents can take “nursing parents” and “child care” leave until their child turns three. The family can decide which parent will remain at home.
Either parent has the right to stay home to care for a sick child under the age of 10. Parents can also shorten their workday until their children start school. Afternoon care is arranged for first and second grade children.
The safety and comfort of the workplace has improved greatly over the years in Finland and in the United States.
Machines do a lot of things for us. Fewer and fewer people have physically demanding or dangerous jobs. Nevertheless, even excess computer use can cause headaches and back pain. That is why it is common to have
fitness rooms and sports classes for employees. Kind of like gym class!
- What do Finnish kids want from their dream job?
- Lots of money
- Long maternity leaves
- Great retirement plans
- Daily sporting events
2. What do the lawmakers have to tackle?
- sick people
- angry women
- great expectations
- the welfare system
3. What rights do small kids have in Finland?
- state-funded ice cream
- to refuse to go to the dentist
- to have one parent stay at home when they are sick
- an allowance of 900 dollars per month
4. What are the things that are different for Finnish workers compared to US workers?
- University education is free for all
- Families receive an allowance for each child every month until the child turns 18
- Fathers are entitles to paternity leave for 18 days
- all of the above