SAK, Akava and STTK would like to remind employers of their obligation to advance equality within the workplace.

According to the amended Non-discrimination Act (Yhdenvertaisuuslaki 1325/2014), effective at the start of 2015, workplaces that employ at least 30 employees must have a written equality plan drawn up no later than the beginning of 2017.

“The planning process for the implementation of the plan is an exceptional opportunity for employers to work with their personnel to survey and assess equality within their own workplace. At the same time, it makes it possible for workplaces to draw up suitable measures for the advancement of equality,” the employee confederations state.

The employee confederations view these measures as worthwhile, since an increase in well-being at work also results in an increase in workplace productivity.

“The benefits from the input to realise equality are greater than the time and work invested. It benefits everyone, both the employers and employees,” states Anu-Tuija Lehto, Lawyer at SAK.

The promotion of equality is not a separate or isolated matter within the work community, but should be viewed as a natural part of the everyday activities of the workplace.

“Each member of the work community should have the possibility to influence the atmosphere in the workplace, and part of that is understanding one’s personal responsibility to treat others equally. Equality develops best when everyone takes it seriously and commits to its realisation,” adds Miika Sahamies, Senior Advisor at Akava.

It is discrimination if people are treating others less respectfully because of some personal trait. Such personal traits include age, origin, nationality, language, religion, convictions, opinions, political activities, trade union activities, family relations, health condition, disability, sexual orientation or other personal reason.

“We might easily sum it up by saying that no one can be discriminated against for any reason. Everyone has the right to equal opportunities in working life, and no one should ever have to experience discrimination in the workplace,” emphasises Anja Lahermaa, Lawyer at STTK.

The first ‘Stepping up Equality’ week

Non-Discrimination Ombudsman, the employee confederations and other organisations devoted to promoting equality will be joining forces this week to organise the first ‘Stepping up Equality’ week (in Finnish Yhdenvertaisuuden vauhditusviikko). The purpose of the theme week, which is being organised for the first time, is to remind people of the importance of equality and of employers’ obligation to promote equality, regardless of the size, field, sector or other factors that differentiate one workplace from another.

The ‘Stepping up Equality’ week is being realised in co-operation with the ‘Discrimination-free Zone’ campaign. The campaign encourages work communities to commit and publically declare themselves discrimination-free zones.