Short term job contracts criticised

The prevalence of short time work contracts is criticised by the national daily (Helsingin Sanomat, 29 January 2001). In a leading article, the paper considers it strange that in a climate of strong economic growth short term contracts are still very common in spite of some reduction in their number during the past year.

Many employees go through a chain of short term contracts. For instance, in health care 42 per cent of short term employees are on their fifth contract at least in the same work place. Helsingin Sanomat says that this kind of practice cannot serve the best interests of employees, society or even employers.

The paper writes that for young employees short term jobs bring welcome experience and help to find suitable work. But when these kind of jobs continue year after year, they increase feelings of insecurity and weaken self-confidence. The risk of unemployment is seven times higher on a short term contract than in a permanent job.

Ooften members of the same family have temporary jobs. As a consequence, young families postpone having children and buying a home. Short term jobs are also becoming more common amongst middle aged employees. Helsingin Sanomat notes that short term contracts are better than unemployment but they should not become an accepted practice if the nature of work does not demand it. Temporary jobs have become more and more common in the public sector which should be addressing the threat of shortage of labour. An employee is more committed to a permanent job than to a temporary job.

The percentage of short term jobs in 1997 was 16% among men and 21% among women. At the beginning of the decade the equivalent figures were 10% and 16%.

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