Changes in the Working Hours Act

The new Working Hours Act enters into force on the first day of 2020. It contains several significant changes that affect even those companies that have organized work around a collective agreement. The applicable framework in its entirety will, in the end, also still depend on the applicable collective agreement and any local agreements.

A noteworthy change to the current situation is that homeworkers are no longer excluded from the scope of the Act. This means that telecommuting is now in principle under the scope of the Act, unless another exception to its scope is applicable.

As a starting point, night time work is still forbidden in all other situations that those listed in the Act. However, a notable difference is that temporary night work will be permitted. This will make it easier to, for example, hold occasional phone conferences between 11 pm and 6 am if they would otherwise be difficult to organize due to time differences.

A completely new form of organizing working time, called flexible working time arrangement, will be implemented along with the new Act. A flexible working time arrangement gives the employee more freedom to choose, when and where to work. Flexible working time arrangements do not exclude the employee from all working hours regulation, so some restrictions continue to apply. The main change is that instead of dictating the employee’s working hours, the employer shall set the tasks and goals to be achieved.

Another significant improvement is that the new Act contains a working hours bank option for all companies. The parties to the working hours bank agreement have to agree on what can be banked, including for example working hours, leave and free time based on a conversion of monetary benefits. The Act forbids the transfer of certain items into the working hours bank, which should be carefully considered when drafting the agreement.

It should also be noted that the new Act differs from the current legislation in the way in which the maximum working hours for the year are calculated. The new Working Hours Act contains a limit on all working hours, whilst the current law limits the amount of overtime that can be worked. Employers are given a year to modify their working time monitoring systems so that they can regulate the amounts of all worked hours instead of regulating the number of overtime hours.

We are happy to assist if you would like to discuss the possible opportunities or amendment needs that follow from the new legislation.