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Finnish MPs approve watered-down version of controversial firing law

Government softened major elements of the contentious draft legislation in the face of stiff resistance from labour unions.

Jari Lindström eduskunnan täysistunnossa Helsingissä.
Labour Minister Jari Lindström in Parliament on Tuesday. Image: Markku Ulander / Lehtikuva

Finnish lawmakers voted 102-72 to approve a milder version of a controversial government bill aimed at making it easier for small firms to fire employees.

The original draft bill would have allowed firms will fewer than 20 workers to essentially strip workers of protection from summary dismissal. However after strong pushback from labour unions including strikes and other forms of industrial action, government reduced the firing threshold to firms with 10 employees.

The version passed in Parliament on Tuesday included no mention of employee numbers. Instead, the bill that MPs approved called for the number of a firm’s employees to determine the relevance and number of redundancies implemented.

In promoting the bill, the government had previously argued that small firms would be more likely to hire new employees if it were easier for them to fire others.

However any positive employment impact might have been tempered by application of the law and by case law established in the courts.

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