Monitoring the Equality Act
Equality and equal treatment is regulated under Finnish national legislation, European Community law and international agreements binding on Finland. The Constitution contains a prohibition of discrimination and an obligation to promote gender equality. The Equality Act contains regulations on promoting gender equality and prohibiting gender-based discrimination, as well as the consequences of violating these regulations.
Discrimination is forbidden under employment law, which also includes a general obligation of equal treatment of the staff. The Criminal Code prohibits discrimination at work and in business.
The Non-Discrimination Act contains regulations on promoting equal opportunities and prohibiting discrimination on the basis of age, ethnic or national origin, nationality, language, religion, belief, opinion, health, disability, sexual orientation or other personal characteristics.
Guidance and advice relating to the Equality Act
A person who suspects that they have been discriminated against can ask for guidance and advice from the Ombudsman for Equality. If the Ombudsman for Equality notices that the obligations of the Act are not being observed, or that the regulations of the Act are being violated, they must seek to prevent this by providing guidance and advice. The Ombudsman for Equality can bring illegal activity before the National Non-Discrimination and Equality Tribunal.
If the Ombudsman discovers that an employer or educational establishment neglects its obligation to prepare a gender equality plan despite receiving guidance and advice, the Ombudsman can demand that such a plan be prepared within a reasonable period specified by the Ombudsman. If this does not achieve the desired result, the Ombudsman can propose to the National Non-Discrimination and Equality Tribunal that they demand that the employer or educational establishment prepare the equality plan within the specified period. The Tribunal can reinforce its order with a conditional fine.
Right of access to information
The Ombudsman for Equality has the right to receive the necessary information for monitoring from the authorities free of charge, whether or not it is confidential under law. The Ombudsman also has the right to receive information that is necessary in order to monitor compliance with the Equality Act from all relevant parties within a reasonable period as specified by the Ombudsman, as well as the right to demand that they present any document that they possess, unless the person has the right or responsibility under law to refuse to testify or present the document.
Right to conduct an inspection
The Ombudsman for Equality has the right to carry out inspections at a workplace, educational institution, organisation representing labour market interests, or the business facilities of a provider of goods and services, if there is reason to suspect that actions have been taken that are contrary the Equality Act or that the obligations concerning equality laid down in the Act have not otherwise been complied with.
Assistance in legal proceedings
The Ombudsman may assist a person who has been the subject of discrimination in a legal action regarding compensation or reimbursement provided that the matter is of significant importance for the application of the Equality Act.