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Working hours bank

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Working hours bank

Working hours bank refers to the voluntary arrangement for saving and combining working hours, earned time off or monetary benefits that have been converted into time off. A working hours bank can be used in all sectors. Several collective agreements have already made it possible to agree on using a working hours bank. The workplace can choose whether to use a working hours bank in accordance with the Working Hours Act or a collective agreement.

The employer and the shop steward, elected representative or some other employee representative, or the personnel or personnel group may jointly agree in writing on the introduction of a working hours bank. The contract signed by the representative is binding on those employees they represent. However, an employee can choose not to save working hours in the bank.

First of all, agree on what is the maximum amount of hours that can be stored in the bank and what can be converted into time off. The latter can include, for instance, pay for additional work, overtime, evening and night shifts or holiday bonus. You cannot use the working hours bank for converting reimbursements for expenses, paid monetary benefits or your regular salary into time off (apart from the flexitime excess hours).  

Remember to also agree on how working hours bank is terminated and how the stored hours can be compensated upon termination of the bank. If you have not agreed with the employer on how termination procedure, the hours stored in the working hours bank must be compensated either as paid leave or as a monetary reimbursement based on your overall salary for regular working hours. 

You should also agree on how the time off stored in working hours bank is to be used. The time off can be, for instance, agreed to be used in connection to summer holiday or some other less busy time from the point of view of the employer.

You can transfer to the bank your overtime or additional work hours as well as those excess hours you have accumulated in flexitime (maximum 60 hours within each four-month period). You can also transfer to the bank monetary benefits based on law or your employment agreement after they have been first converted into time off (for instance reimbursements for additional work and overtime, holiday bonus and other supplements). 

You cannot transfer regular working hours and reimbursements for expenses to the working hours bank. You also cannot transfer monetary benefits to the working hours bank after they have been paid to you (for instance reimbursements for travel costs or unused annual leave meant to be used during the next holiday season.   

Working hours bank cannot more hours than the amount corresponding to six months of employee's regular working time. In addition, within a calendar year the stored hours cannot increase by more than 180 hours from what was the balance at the end of the previous calendar year. 

You have the right to use the balance of your working hours bank for having at least two weeks of leave per year. If you have stored over 10 weeks worth of time in your working hours bank, you have a right to use at least 20 percent of the total amount as a time off. The leave must be given within six months based on your request. 

If the employer decides the timing for the leave, you have a right to have the leave reimbursed instead of having it as a time off. 

If you get sick before the leave has started, your absence from work is considered to be due to an illness. If you fall ill during a working hours bank leave, the leave is used and cannot be postponed.  You can - and if possible, should - agree otherwise when negotiating on the working hours bank agreement.  Collective agreements also include various regulations regarding the matter. 

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