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Weekly round-up: Strikes banned in Finland, menopause legislation, and more redundancies

By Kace O'Neill | |6 minute read

In this week’s round-up of HR news, Finland plans to introduce fines for participating in strikes, firms in the UK will risk being sued if they don’t assist workers going through menopause, and Vice is the latest media organisation to issue redundancies.

Strike out

According to Reuters, Finland plans to introduce a €200 fine for participation in illegal strikes. The Finnish government is, therefore, restricting the right to strike with this new legislation that is attempting to negate any participation in illegal “political” industrial action.

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Finnish unions have been protesting against the government’s labour reforms and welfare cuts for months and organised several widespread strikes in January and February, vowing to follow up with more action if the government did not cancel its plans.

Finland’s overall economy has been performing quite poorly recently, and the four-party coalition in office since last year has promised to put an end to accumulating more public debt. However, the unions don’t see this promise come to fruition.

To push back against these protests, the government has announced new legislation on “industrial peace”, with Employment Minister Arto Satonen saying the government would restrict the length of political strikes to 24 hours and introduce a personal fine of €200 for employees attending a strike that had been declared illegal by a court.

The right to strike would remain unaffected in cases of labour market disputes, such as disagreements over wages between employees and employers. The government also plans to issue a ban on what Minister Satonen called “disproportionate” solidarity strikes.

Menopause must be taken seriously by employers

According to the BBC, employers will face being sued if they do not make reasonable adjustments in regard to employees going through menopause. Menopause symptoms can now be considered a disability, with the symptoms including hot flashes, brain fog, and difficulty sleeping.

The Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) issued the guidance to clarify the legal obligations to workers going through menopause. The EHRC said bosses should offer changes such as providing rest areas or flexible hours to help workers deal with menopause.

Failing to make these “reasonable adjustments” amounts to disability discrimination under the Equality Act 2010, if the symptoms have a “long-term and substantial impact” on a woman’s ability to carry out their usual day-to-day activities, the EHRC said.

The statistics show that two-thirds of women between the ages of 40 and 60 experienced menopausal symptoms at work, which largely had a negative impact on their productivity and their personal wellbeing.

The EHRC added that taking disciplinary action against women for a menopause-related absence could amount to discrimination and that language that ridicules someone’s symptoms could constitute harassment.

Redundancy watch: Vice, the latest add to the list

Posted on the Human Times’ bulletin on 23 February, according to US News, Vice Media plans to lay off several hundred employees and wrap up publishing material on its Vice.com website, the company’s chief executive, Bruce Dixon, said in a memo to staff last week.

Vice, which filed for bankruptcy and was sold for $350 million, is also looking to sell its Refinery29 publishing businesses, which also featured in the memo. It’s only the latest sign of financial problems affecting the media industry, with Paramount, Sports Illustrated, and the LA Times being just some of the other companies to have redundancies in the early stages of 2024.

Vice, during its inception, was referred to as a trailblazer in the media industry geared towards a younger audience, which featured immersive, grassroots storytelling that encompassed digital, television and film outlets. New York-based Vice was valued at $5.7 billion in 2017.

Mr Dixon offered no specifics about the redundancies other than saying hundreds of people would be affected and would be notified early next week.

“I know that saying goodbye to our valued colleagues is difficult and feels overwhelming, but this is the best path forward for Vice as we position the company for long-term creative and financial success,” Mr Dixon said.

Kace O'Neill

Kace O'Neill

Kace O'Neill is a Graduate Journalist for HR Leader. Kace studied Media Communications and Maori studies at the University of Otago, he has a passion for sports and storytelling.