Shop Stewards and Personnel Representatives

In the workplace, our members are represented by, for example, shop stewards, employee representatives and occupational safety representatives. The personnel representatives promote the personnel’s views and needs in dialogue with the employer.


In the workplace, our members are represented by, for example, shop stewards, in accordance with the collective agreement, and by employee representatives and occupational safety representatives, in accordance with the law. We refer to them all as personnel representatives. The changing needs of working life call for elected personnel representatives who participate actively in developing the working conditions and terms of employment in their workplace and engage in dialogue with their employer. BBAs who act as personnel representatives are also an important source of information for us when we want to know how working life is treating BBAs. We encourage our members to participate in this important work, as BBAs are well positioned to act as representatives of their coworkers in the workplace!


As the demands of working life increase and working methods and workplaces change, continuous and functional cooperation between employers and personnel is required in order to manage the rules of working life and the employees’ wellbeing and coping. A good example of this is the rising popularity of remote work, which has created new challenges for both management and the monitoring of employee wellbeing. In a situation like this, the personnel representative is needed to promote the personnel’s views and needs in dialogue with the employer

The duties of a personnel representative are varied and rewarding. The duties are shaped by the conditions in the workplace and the level of activity among the personnel.

  • Collective agreement and legal expert - assists and advises employees in matters related to employment.
  • Work community developer – promotes the overall wellbeing and working conditions of the work community.
  • Collector and sharer of information – acts as an important link between the union and the employees they represent as well as between the employer and the employees.
  • Negotiator – a personnel representative must be one, as more and more issues are discussed and decided locally in the work community.


  • developing the operations and working life in your workplace
  • promoting and maintaining cooperation between the employer and the employees
  • communicating information between the employer and the employees you represent
  • advising others about and monitoring compliance with the application of the collective agreement and labor law
  • participating in local bargaining




The shop steward is a personnel representative elected in accordance with the collective agreement. The election and role of the shop steward will be agreed in more detail in the collective agreement pertaining to the sector or company. The collective agreement provides for, among other things, the election, term of office, compensation, access to information and training of the shop steward as well as the use of working time for the office. The collective agreement often also allows for certain matters to be agreed locally, and the shop steward can negotiate about these with the employer. A shop steward may also have a different title, such as contact person, depending on the collective agreement they come under.

In the private sector, senior salaried employees elect a shop steward from among themselves in those industries that come under the collective agreements of our negotiating organization, The Federation of Professional and Managerial Staff YTNIn the public sector, all our members are covered by collective agreements. In the public sector (state, municipalities, churches), Akava members choose shared JUKO shop stewards. The rights and responsibilities are mainly the same as those of the private sector shop stewards.


What if my workplace does not have a collective agreement?

An employee representative may be elected from among the personnel if the workplace does not have a collective agreement. In this case, the selection is based on the Employment Contracts Act. A separate employee representative is commonly elected for each personnel group. An employee representative may be elected from among specialists and managers, i.e. senior salaried employees, even if the workplace has a collective agreement for other personnel groups.

The duties of the employee representative are in theory the same as those of a shop steward, but the framework set by labor law limits their ability to negotiate locally. In addition, employees may separately, by majority decision, authorize an employee representative to represent them in matters related to employment relationships and working conditions, such as remuneration or annual leave. The employee representative has the right to use the necessary amount of working time to perform their duties. However, the use of working time must be agreed with the employer first. 


The occupational safety representative is a person chosen by the employees from among themselves, who represents the personnel in matters related to occupational safety cooperation with the employer.

The occupational safety representative and two deputy representatives must be selected at workplaces with at least 10 employees. Even in workplaces with fewer employees, it is possible to choose an occupational safety representative for a valid reason. The term of office of the occupational safety representative is, in principle, two years, unless otherwise is agreed either locally or in the collective agreement of the workplace. However, the term of office may not exceed 4 years. The employer is required to provide information to employees about their right to choose an occupational safety representative if necessary.

The occupational safety representative must familiarize themselves with matters related to health and safety in their workplace, encourage other employees to pay attention to them and make proposals for improvements. Communicating these proposals and ideas to the employer is an important part of the office.

  • The occupational safety representative has the right to view safety and health information related to the working environment and the work community, as well as to participate in the occupational health and safety inspection.
  • The performance of the occupational safety representative's duties or participation in related training must be remunerated for any costs or loss of income incurred as a result of performing duties. The occupational safety representative also has legal protection against unjustified dismissal in accordance with the Employment Contracts Act.
  • The occupational safety representative has the right to interrupt work that poses an immediate and serious threat to the employee's life and health. The employer or the employer's representative must be notified immediately about the interruption.

The deputy representative takes care of the duties of the occupational safety representative when the occupational safety representative is not available. The occupational safety representative may be unavailable permanently or temporarily.

For more information about occupational safety cooperation and occupational safety representatives, please see the The Centre for Occupational Safety website.


The position of the personnel representative is based on the shop steward provisions of the collective agreement or the labor law. Under these laws and agreements, they are, among other things, protected against unjustified dismissal. 



You do not have to work alone. We offer help and support to our members who act as personnel representatives. 

Our negotiation organizations YTN and JUKO regularly organize training events for personnel representatives. In addition, Professionals of Business and Technology organizes annual training events and seminars for our members who act as personnel representatives. In personnel representative training you will learn skills and information required for the office, and you will have the opportunity to network and exchange ideas with other personnel representatives. 

The Professionals of Business and Technology lawyers and our appointed specialists are always there to help you with your duties. If you need support or advice, you can always contact one of our designated private and public sector specialists. 

Jenni Lakso

Special Advisor, technology sector and auditing, shop steward coordination

050 321 8982


Jenni Lakso