Finland’s Audiovisual Translators Win Higher Rates, Paid Leave in Historic Agreement

Finland Translation Agreement

On April 24, 2023, Kieliasiasantitijat (Finland’s Language Experts Association), reported that a collective agreement establishing minimum rates for self-employed audiovisual (AV) translators had been reached.

This is the first time a collective agreement has determined self-employed workers’ rates. The settlement came after years of discussion, said Helena Lamponen, a director at the Akava Special Branches trade union, the umbrella organization of which Language Experts is a part.

More specifically, the European Commission’s guidelines from September 2022 removed obstacles to negotiations by selectively allowing self-employed workers to “engage in collective bargaining without breaching European competition law.”

The change allowed Finland to establish minimum rates without amending a law, Lamponen added.

According to Language Experts, most of Finland’s 400 AV translators are self-employed, meaning they could benefit from the new, higher minimum rates.

As of June 1, 2023, minimum salaries and individual rates will be raised by 3.5%. In the second year of the agreement, translators can expect another 2% raise plus a 0.5% raise from employers. 

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Self-employed translators will also receive an additional payment of 30-50%, which is intended to cover translators’ pensions, to which language service providers (LSPs) do not contribute.

“The rate increases are incremental, but the goal of the contractual parties in the next negotiation round is to reach a common collective agreement level for all translation work,” Language Experts wrote. (More details about the next negotiation round were not provided.)

Professionals translating from a language of Finland to a foreign language will receive an additional fee for their services. Translation into Saami languages comes with its own additional fee, reportedly since the translator may need to create new terminology in the course of their work.

Parental leave has also been expanded to cover self-employed translators, to the tune of 32 days’ paid leave for each parent, as well as 40 days’ paid pregnancy leave for mothers.

In addition to the Akava Special Branches trade union and its member union, Language Experts, the Union of Journalists in Finland took part in negotiations on the employee side. Saga Vera Oy, Pre-Text Oy, Movision Ky, and the Rosmer International Cooperative were the parties on the employer side.