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Legislation

Legislation on gender equalityAccording to the Constitution no one shall, without an acceptable reason, be treated differently from other persons on the ground of sex, age, origin, language, religion, conviction, opinion, health, disability or other reason that concerns his or her person.

The Constitution also obliges to promote  equality of the sexes in societal activity and working life, especially in the determination of pay and the other terms of employment.

The Act on Equality between Women and Men

The objectives of the Act on Equality between Women and Men are to prevent discrimination based on gender, to promote equality between women and men, and thus to improve the status of women, particularly in working life. The Act also applies to members of sexual minorities, such as transgendered persons.

The Equality Act is applied extensively to the activities of society and to different areas of life. Only private life and religious practice have been excluded.

The Equality Act contains provisions for promoting equality, prohibiting gender based discrimination, and providing legal protection.

Authorities, education providers and employers have a duty to promote gender equality. It is important to evaluate all activities of the authorities from the point of view of the different genders (gender mainstreaming). Gender equality is also promoted through quotas.

Gender equality planning is the most important tool for promoting gender equality in educational institutions and in working life. Officials, education providers, and employers must also prevent discrimination based on gender identity and gender expression. Breaking bans on discrimination may lead to demands for compensation.

Gender-based discrimination is prohibited in all of its forms. Gender-based discrimination means treating someone differently on the basis of gender, pregnancy, giving birth, parenthood, family responsibilities, gender identity, or gender expression.

Sexual or gender-based harassment, ordering or instructing another person to engage in discrimination and counter measures for appealing to rights are considered discrimination. Discrimination can also result from a reason or assumed reason involving a person close to the person discriminated against.

Non-discrimination Act

The Non-discrimination Act prohibits discrimination on the basis of age, origin, nationality, language, religion, belief, opinion, political activity, trade union activity, family relationships, state of health, disability, sexual orientation, or other personal characteristics.

The Act also has stipulations on the advancement of non-discrimination.

Employment Contracts Act

The Employment Contracts Act includes the requirement of equal treatment, prohibits improper treatment of an employee, and includes regulations for return from family leave.

Supervision of the legislation

Compliance with the Equality Act is supervised by the Ombudsman for Equality and the National Discrimination and Equality Tribunal.

The Ombudsman for Equality provides guidance and advice on application of the Equality Act in matters such as the prohibitions of discrimination and gender equality planning. The Ombudsman may also take measures to reconcile a discrimination matter. 

The Tribunal may, under the threat of imposing a fine, ban a discriminatory practice, and at the proposal of the Ombudsman for Equality, require preparing a gender equality plan within a defined period. The Tribunal may also confirm the reconciliation between the parties.  

Compliance with the Non-discrimination Act is supervised by the Non-Discrimination Ombudsman, occupational health and safety officials, and the National Discrimination and Equality Tribunal.

Supervision of the Employment Contracts Act and the supervision of individual cases falling under the scope of the Non-discrimination Act in working life are the responsibility of the occupational health and safety areas of responsibility of the Regional State Administrative Agencies. Contact information of the occupational health and safety areas of responsibility of the Regional State Administrative Agencies

Further information

Terhi Tulkki, Senior Specialist, Legal Affairs 
Ministry of Social Affairs and Health, Työ- ja tasa-arvo-osasto / TTO, Tasa-arvoyksikkö / TASY 0295163229  


Outi Kumpuvaara, Senior Specialist, Legal Affairs 
Ministry of Social Affairs and Health, Työ- ja tasa-arvo-osasto / TTO, Tasa-arvoyksikkö / TASY 0295163167