Summer season in the strawberry fields is near – seasonal workers will soon start their work
This summer, thousands of foreign workers will again be working on Finnish berry and vegetable plantations and farms. The processing of seasonal work applications is well under way at the Finnish Immigration Service. As last year, companies in the sector have employed seasonal workers, mainly from Ukraine.
The majority of seasonal workers come to Finland for a short period in the summer. They apply for a certificate for seasonal work from the Finnish Immigration Service, which enables them to work in Finland for 90 days. Those who work longer apply for a seasonal worker’s residence permit.
Anna Hyppönen, Head of the Immigration Unit's Employment Section, says that a large part of the requests for certificates for seasonal work has already been processed, if the number of applicants remains at the level of last year, as expected. A total of 6,644 certificates for seasonal work have been issued this year, of which 6,523 were for Ukrainian citizens (situation on 16 May). Last year, 6,783 certificates for seasonal work were issued.
579 people have received a seasonal work permit for employment lasting 3-6 months. Additionally, 353 permits have been granted for employment lasting 6-9 months.
"The largest number of applications is for picking garden berries. Seasonal work is, of course, done in other sectors and throughout the year, such as in holiday resorts and on fur farms in the autumn."
Experience gained from the first permit year is useful
Last year, a new act on seasonal work came into force, changing the authorisation practices. According to Hyppönen, the Finnish Immigration Service has been able to prepare for the season more precisely and anticipate the number of applications after gaining experience from the first year.
"Applying for a seasonal work permit was a new issue last year, and we received a lot of questions and feedback from employers in particular. Based on this, we added guidance to our customers in Ukrainian and Russian this year, and we organised, for example, a webinar on seasonal work," says Hyppönen.
Employers' questions often concern wages. The seasonal worker must be guaranteed pay in accordance with the generally applicable collective agreement in the sector. The subsistence of a seasonal worker must be secured by the income from the employment. In 2019, the gross salary of a seasonal worker must be at least EUR 1,211 per month in order to ensure that the worker’s subsistence is secured.
The processing of certificates for seasonal work has also been accelerated by the fact that more and more applications are submitted in the Enter Finland online service.
"It is clearly the fastest way to apply. The processing of residence permits for seasonal work has lasted 1-2 months on average, and the shortest processing times for certificates for seasonal work have been a few days," says Hyppönen.