The European Committee on Social Rights made a ruling against Finland on restricting the right to early childhood education and care

The European Committee on Social Rights made a ruling against Finland on restricting the right to early childhood education and care

On 4 February, the European Committee on Social Rights issued its ruling on a collective complaint lodged by the Central Union for Child Welfare against Finland in November 2016 concerning the restriction of children's subjective right to early childhood education and care.

According to the Committee, the amendment to the Act on Early Childhood Education and Care, which the Government of Prime Minister Sipilä brought into force at the beginning of August 2016, limiting children's right to early childhood education and care to 20 hours a week and granting full-time early childhood education and care mainly to children of full-time students or working parents, was contrary to the revised European Social Charter for all Articles presented in the complaint.

In line with the Programme of Prime Minister Marin’s Government, the Act on Early Childhood Education and Care has been amended and the restriction of the right to early childhood education and care will be rescinded as of 1 August 2020. Following the legislative amendments, all children will have an equal right to early childhood education and care, and the socio-economic status or residence of the family will no longer affect the scope of children's right to early childhood education and care. The amendments will strengthen the non-discrimination of children and families.

The Committee’s decision will next be discussed in the Council of Europe Committee of Ministers.

The collective complaint by the Central Union for Child Welfare focused on the Articles of the revised European Social Charter on the right of families to appropriate social, legal and economic protection (Article 16), the right of children and young people to appropriate social, legal and economic protection (Article 17) and the right of all persons with family responsibilities and who are engaged or wish to engage in employment have a right to do so without being subject to discrimination (Article 27). According to the Committee, the amendment to the Act was also discriminatory from the point of view of the European Social Charter’s Article E on non-discrimination.

The new European Social Charter is an international agreement safeguarding social rights in Europe. States Parties are bound to guarantee respect of the Charter rights to all people within their jurisdiction without discrimination. Compliance with the Charter is monitored through national reports drawn up periodically by the States Parties. In addition, social partners and other non-governmental organisations can lodge collective complaints to the European Committee on Social Rights for rulings on possible non-implementation of the Charter.

Inquiries:

  • Katja Kuuppelomäki, Senior Officer for Legislative Affairs, Ministry for Foreign Affairs, tel. + 358 029 535 1175
  • Tarja Kahiluoto, Senior Ministerial Adviser, Ministry of Education and Culture, tel. +358 2953 30386

Touko Sipiläinen, Special Adviser, Ministry of Education and Culture, tel. +358 295 330 143