Remote work recommendation to end at the end of February, after which workplaces to shift to a combination of in-office and remote work depending on risk assessments and the epidemiological situation
On 17 February, the Government issued a resolution ending the national recommendation on remote work after 28 February. After the national recommendation ends, employers are encouraged to follow the instructions provided by regional health authorities, as the situation in different regions may change rapidly.
The national recommendation on remote work is in force in areas in the community transmission phase until 28 February. All of Finland is currently in the community transmission phase.
Though the national recommendation is ending, it is advisable to shift to a combination of in-office and remote work gradually. Employers remain responsible for assessing the risks relating to work. This assessment should be based on the hospital districts’ and health authorities’ assessments of the epidemiological situation and involve consultations with employees.
In order to ensure health security at work, hygiene and protection measures must continue to be complied with, and it is advisable to favour work arrangements that reduce close contacts and other risk factors at workplaces. Each workplace must assess their possibilities for a controlled return to the workplace, how they can promote good remote work practices and how they can flexibly combine remote and in-office work.
Omicron variant causes less need for hospital care
COVID-19 infections are spreading rapidly amongst the population, and the burden on hospitals remains high. The Omicron variant, in particular, is spreading in Finland. The remote work recommendation made it possible to reduce contacts amongst the adult population and slow the rise in the number of infections.
The Omicron variant appears to be milder in populations with high vaccination coverage – people with two vaccinations can be infected, but the vaccinations prevent the serious forms of the disease. The infection rate is high in proportion to the nature, extent and targeting of vaccine coverage, but it is clear that infections less frequently need hospital care. This being the case, the national recommendation on remote work can be ended as of the beginning of March, and it will be possible to gradually shift to a combination of remote and in-office work depending on the regional epidemiological situation.
The Government issued a resolution on an open-ended recommendation for workplaces to switch to remote work on 2 December 2021. At the time, it was decided that the grounds for the recommendation would be reassessed no later than in mid-February. In a meeting on 8 February 2022, the Ministerial Working Group on Coordinating COVID-19 Response supported the proposal of the Ministry of Finance and Ministry of Social Affairs and Health to end the recommendation on remote work.
The Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare issued a statement on the epidemiological situation and the Finnish Institute of Occupational Health on the necessity of the recommendation on remote work.
Juha Madetoja, Head of Unit, Ministry of Finance, tel. +358 295 530 572, juha.madetoja(at)gov.fi
Kimmo Tarvainen, Senior Medical Officer, Ministry of Social Affairs and Health, tel. +358 295 163 070, kimmo.j.tarvainen(at)gov.fi