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JUHANI ARTTO
HOMEPAGE 2013

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Trade Union News from Finland

Older salaried employees are pushed out of working life
by employers, Pro's survey reveals

Helsinki (14.03.2012 - Juhani Artto) In 2011, almost 25 per cent of private sector salaried employees, from 60 to 64 years of age, were given notice by their employers. Among those from 55 to 59 years of age nearly 15 per cent lost their jobs as a result of their employers' decisions. In the age brackets of younger salaried employees the dismissal rate was well below 10 per cent.

These are some of the major findings in a survey published on Wednesday by the salaried employees' trade union Pro. The figures are based on replies given last year by 14,000 rank and file members of the union. These people work, for example, as experts and supervisors in industry and in the service, financial, ICT and communication sectors.

According to Antti Rinne, the President of Pro, the employers' policy - when cutting jobs - to target older employees is in contravention of the stated aim of the government and the labour market organizations to extend work careers.

Discrimination against older employees is obvious also in how employers provide training for their personnel. Employers tend to invest primarily in the training of young employees. The older an employee is, the less he or she is likely to be offered training that would updates skills, Pro's survey reveals.

As to the risk of older employees incurring a greater amount of sick leave the replies indicate that the sick leave rate of employees 50+ years of age is lower than among younger employees.

Preferably more free-time than a pay rise

In December 2011, Pro's rank and file members earned on average EUR 2,863. Those in the lowest decile of earners earned EUR 2,000, and the highest tenth of earners received EUR 3,900. Results-based and other bonuses played only a marginal role in the incomes of the respondents.

The income gap between men and women grows rapidly even in the early stages of work careers. Among salaried employees of around 30 years of age men's annual earning is on average about EUR 5,000 above the women's average and within ten more years at work the gap doubles.

According to the survey, Pro's rank and file members do, on average, 0.5 hours per week uncompensated overtime work. This adds up to approximately 2 million hours of uncompensated work per annum. If employees were not to donate such an amount of uncompensated work to their employers, over 1,000 salaried employees would be employed filling the gap.

When asked would one prefer a two per cent pay rise to a corresponding amount of more free-time, over 70 per cent "voted" for more free-time. And among employees in certain sectors the majority favouring more free-time was even larger, nearly 80 per cent.