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Working for the family or one of its members raises the problem of whether this constitutes work falling within the scope of labour law. There is nothing, as such, in Finnish law to prevent relatives or family members from being in an employment relationship with each other. Although employment relationships between family members are excluded from the scope of many statutes by special provisions, this has not been done in, for example, the 2001 Contracts of Employment Act.

For a family member to be deemed to be in an employment relationship within the meaning of the Act with another family member, this must have been explicitly agreed between them. In particular, it must have been agreed that remuneration is to be paid. The legal presumption in the Act that work is done in return for remuneration does not hold good between family members. Consequently, work can also be done between family members on the basis of family law. If, on the other hand, a clear contract of employment has been concluded or the characteristics of an employment relationship are otherwise fulfilled, labour-law statutes are applicable in so far as this is not restricted by special provisions.

The semantic content of the "family" and "family law" concept is unclear. There is a particular problem as regards couples engaged to be married and co-habiting partners. A relationship based on family law cannot exist between an employee and a legal person (e.g. a joint-stock company) even if the legal person concerned is family-owned. See fundamental characteristics of the employment relationship, work entitled to fair remuneration.)

Please note: the European industrial relations glossaries were compiled between 1991 and 2003 and are not updated. For current material see the European industrial relations dictionary.

Page last updated: 14 August, 2009