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Half of young wage earners not given legal holiday duration, survey says

Preventing employees from taking consecutive weeks of vacation is almost always illegal, a union says.

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Close to half of young wage earners are not being given the right to take four consecutive weeks of holiday. Image: Mostphotos

Only 52 percent of under 30-year-olds are allowed to take four consecutive weeks of summer leave, according to a new survey commissioned by Erto, the union of private sector professionals.

The most common reason that employees were given when asked to break up their vacation weeks was that taking a four-week holiday would require hiring a replacement.

According to Erto, this means that half of young people are being left without the statutory rest period that is mandated by law in the interests of occupational well-being. Of all-age wage earners, 27 percent were left without the option of a four-week vacation, according to the survey.

Legalities surrounding holiday time

”For employers to divert from a continuous four-week holiday requires exceptional circumstances, so the lack of a continuous holiday is almost always illegal,” said Erto spokesperson Juri Aaltonen in a press release.

According to Aaltonen, the need to hire a replacement doesn’t give the employers the right to force employees to break up their four-week holiday into smaller units of time.

Though holiday time can be broken up, Erto stresses that it must be because a worker wants to have their holiday in several stretches. When it comes to young wage earners, many are unaware of what their rights are regarding how much time off they are entitled to.

YouGov Finland carried out the questionnaire survey for Erto in June by interviewing 1,000 wage earners between the ages of 18 to 63.

Risk group includes low income earners

According to Erto, taking a holiday in one stretch is the best option for workers in terms of rest and recovery. Thus, it’s important from an occupational safety point of view.

“Employees are constantly talking about their ability to cope, and burnout among young people is a very worrisome trend. It is imperative that workers to have the right to the right amount of holiday as per law," said Aaltonen.

According to the survey, the option for holidays breaks up unevenly. In addition to young people, risk groups include low wage earners and those who work for small companies. Of those surveyed who earn under 27,000 euros a year, only half were able to take their requested holiday in one stretch whereas 80 percent of those who earn over 67,500 euros a year were able to do so.

”In certain fields the situation is very worrisome," said Aaltonen. "Only 17 percent of Erto members working in the financial sector receive a continuous four-week holiday and 41 percent receive a three-week holiday. Almost one third are only allowed to take a two-week holiday.”

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