A worker at the Laakso hospital. Photo: Marja Väänänen / Helsinki City

City of Helsinki plans temporary reassignment of employees to avoid layoffs and boost preparedness

In a bid to avoid staff layoffs during the coronavirus outbreak, the City of Helsinki has decided to switch some of its municipal employees to other tasks. The move will also enhance preparedness levels in areas in need of a larger workforce.

The workload of Helsinki’s 40,000+ employees varies substantially at present, dependent on the workers’ sector and role. Some municipal operations have been shut down entirely, while others – in the social services and health care sector in particular – have witnessed a significant rise in the need for labour. The city also recognizes that it is essential for rescue services to have enough personnel at their disposal during this time.

Due to this exceptional situation, Helsinki has begun assessing which of its employees that are currently without work can be redeployed to other units or divisions that are in need of a larger workforce. In practice, this means that those employees with the requisite experience or skills can be transferred to other areas where the need for labour has grown.

The city will also respond to changes in the municipal workforce by re-scheduling annual holidays and days off. To avoid layoffs and to ensure the continuity of city operations, the dates of annual holidays will be examined, and in areas where the need for workers has been reduced, staff will be encouraged to take accrued leave.

In contrast, Helsinki employees in the social services, health care and rescue service sectors may have to prepare for the postponement of their annual leave, in order to ensure the availability of labour as stipulated in Finland’s Emergency Powers Act.

Intensified youth outreach takes to the streets

There is a vital need for youth outreach patrols at present, in addition to existing online youth work and personalised support.

The City of Helsinki has intensified its cooperation with the cities of Espoo, Vantaa and Kauniainen to organise patrols that visit different districts and offer counselling to the young people they meet. Aseman Lapset (Children of the Station) is also participating in this effort, along with several other charities. The metropolitan region’s Nuorisotyö raiteillla (Youth Work on the Railway) is responsible for coordinating the activities of this endeavour.

The municipalities participating in the project work closely with the police as well. Preventive police work and youth services actively cooperate, in order to maintain an up-to-date understanding of how young people in the metropolitan area are assembling and moving around the region.