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Tommi Hämäläinen | Jun 8, 2017 2:41:13 PM


Earlier this week YLE reported that the Finnish National Bureau of Investigation has revealed a cluster within the construction industry operating in the grey market. The Bureau estimated that around 700 people had illegally worked at various construction sites within the Helsinki metropolitan area between 2013-2015. The article has gained significant attention, stimulating conversation around this “dark side” of the construction industry. In my opinion, this issue should be discussed.


So what does the grey market within the construction industry consist of?

It consists of the employer dodging pension contributions, taxes and overtime pay. It is illustrated in inadequate and lacking accident insurance and occupational health care services.  In these situations, who takes responsibility for possible on-site accidents? Unfortunately, it isn’t the employer.

Transparency in all directions

I uphold an active conversation with our clients and employees to discuss their expectations of us a partner and an employer. As the CEO, I personally find this open conversation very important, as it is a way for us to know exactly what is happening and where.

Earlier this week, I met with a couple of our long-term employees, because I wanted to hear their opinion on our organization’s code of conduct. They both pointed out our wages as one of our main strengths. We pay our wages correctly and on time. After all, that is what’s most important.

The construction industry needs to be updated

Paying wages accurately and on time should be the backbone of all construction companies, and not just a way to differentiate oneself from the competition. Labor contracts, the employment contract act, the tax administration and the Finnish law determine the rules, and these authorities make sure that these rules are followed. The employee just needs to operate in an honest way within the set rules. This is not difficult.

Why do employees participate in the grey market?

Can we offer enough work for construction professionals? Do we pay them enough? Honest work should be more rewarding than criminal activity. The companies buying construction services have to be prepared to pay for good legal work. It is easy to recognize a legally operating company from its price. A company that hires illegally is running from its responsibilities.

Employees are always the ones that suffer from the grey market. Every time.