What are employees’ rights and duties?

In an employment relationship, the employee has rights and duties. The employee’s rights are secured by legislation or in the collective labour agreements. The employee’s duties are also defined by legislation and other agreements.

The employee has a duty of loyalty based on law, and it can be obliging even after the employment is terminated. This means that you must not harm the employer by your actions. Breaching the duty of loyalty can involve e.g. practicing competitive activities with another employer and disclosing the employer’s business or professional secrets or customer information to outsiders.

As an employee the ban on competing activities applies to you.  You must not perform such work or engage yourself in such activities that would harm your full-time employer as an unethical competitive act. In your free time you can work for another employer as long as it does not harm the full-time work.

You have the obligation to perform the agreed duties with diligence and in compliance with the instructions provided by the employer, such as agreed working hours and the use of protection equipment.  However, the employer’s supervision right is not unlimited and he cannot ask you to act against the law or unethically. Nor can employees be asked to perform work that is not safe and will risk their or other people’s lives.

If employees make a mistake in their work or neglect their duties, they can be given a caution for it. For significant mistakes or negligence, the employer can give a warning. If you do not know what you have done wrong, you have a right to ask the supervisor to explain the matter. If you feel that you have not deserved a warning, you have a right to explain your own opinion on the matter in a written response. Repeated minor errors or one significant mistake may result in termination of employment.

You are entitled to wages and many other benefits in exchange for your work input. In addition to the benefits and rights provided by the law you will accrue valuable experience and new skills that will benefit your career.

You have a right to join a trade union and to participate in its activities. You also have the right not to become organized. Often, however, it is a good idea to join a union, as it will provide you with advantage and support that you would not get otherwise.