Health and social services: Statement on the Government proposal on legislation concerning the establishment of counties and the reform of health, social and rescue services (TAS 257/2020, issued on 25 September 2020)
The Ombudsman for Equality has issued a statement on the Government proposal on legislation concerning the establishment of counties and the reform of health, social and rescue services in Lausuntopalvelu.fi (service in Finnish or in Swedish).
The Ombudsman for Equality considers it important that the reform will not reduce the openness of salary information with regard to the personnel transferred to the health and social services counties. The openness of salary information is extremely important with regard to the legal protection of a person suspecting pay discrimination. Currently, the total amount of the salaries paid to the officeholders and employees of municipalities and joint municipal authorities as well as the parts of salary determined based on personal performance, the pay grade related to placement or pay corresponding to a requirement group are public. However, the bill does not appear to include an extension of the requirement on the publicity of salary information to cover the salaries of health and social services counties and joint municipal authorities. The Ombudsman for Equality proposes that the provisions on the publicity of salaries in the Personal Data Files in the Administration Act be extended also to cover the salaries of health and social services counties and joint municipal authorities.
The Ombudsman for Equality considers it important that women and men can participate equally in social planning and decision-making in accordance with section 4a of the Act on Equality between Women and Men. In the preparation and implementation of the reform, it must be ensured that both women and men are selected for the different bodies of the future health and social services counties and joint municipal authorities. The same requirement also applies to the composition of the bodies of the Local Government Employers KT that is to be established. It would be good to refer to the Act on Equality between Women and Men in the provisions on the composition of various bodies in the bill.
The Ombudsman for Equality considers it unfortunate that the effects of the bill have hardly been assessed at all from the perspective of genders. For example, it remains unclear how the reform would affect the realisation of equality or the social position of women. The gender impact assessment does not include an assessment on what kind of potential discriminatory gender impacts the reform could have or how they could be prevented. It would be especially important to examine the problems involved in the production and provision of services from the point of view of gender-based discrimination prohibited by section 8e of the Act on Equality between Women and Men, which has not been examined at all in the bill. The factors related to balancing work and family life have also received less attention. The Ombudsman for Equality proposes that the gender impact assessment would be specified more during further preparation.
For promoting equality, it would be important that the new health and social services counties and joint municipal authorities would start drawing up equality plans at as early a stage as possible. When transferring personnel under a new employer, health and social services county or joint municipal authority, differences in pay will be created between employees of different genders doing the same or equal work, which the employer is obliged to correct based on the Act on Equality between Women and Men. Systematic work to harmonise salaries should be started as quickly as possible. (TAS 257/2020)