Finnish maternity package: Greater emphasis on socially responsible procurement

In a report published on 15 January 2019, Finnwatch examines the criteria which Kela applies when sourcing products for the Finnish maternity package. Kela believes that the report raises an important topic and cooperated with Finnwatch on compiling it. Measures are already in place to monitor that the contents of the maternity package are produced in a socially responsible way, and Kela will be prioritising them further.

The products selected for the maternity package must meet specific requirements imposed by EU and Finnish law. A number of other criteria also are applied to ensure that the contents of the maternity package are produced in a socially responsible way.

Kela issues annually an open call for bids to supply products for the maternity package. Prospective suppliers must affirm that they satisfy the provisions of the International Labour Organization’s Minimum Age Convention, which defines a minimum legal working age.

According to benefits manager Johanna Aholainen of Kela, suppliers that do not provide such an affirmation are not accepted to participate in the tender.

Kela requires prospective suppliers to provide assurances that persons no officer of the company has been convicted of any offence involving for example discrimination at work or the violation of the employees’ right to organise. Additional requirements concerning audits for compliance with labour standards were added to the current tendering round. They apply to companies that have production in certain countries. Importers must provide details on their suppliers.

The tendering process is governed by the Act on Public Procurement and Concession Contracts. Under the Act, all suppliers must be treated equally and without discrimination. This means that Kela cannot single out products based on their country of manufacture or their suppliers’ country of origin.

Petra Elomaa, who coordinates Kela’s corporate responsibility programme, hopes to see suppliers offer products that have been produced in a socially responsible way.

“For us Finns, the maternity package is an important social innovation and a source of pride,” Elomaa says, and adds that Kela is working to make sure that it is fully compatible with all ethical standards. “We believe it's important to work with Finnwatch and others like it and will seek further to adopt the recommendations made in the report,” she says. Elomaa says that Kela welcomes the idea raised in the report to build a stronger emphasis on social responsibility into the Act on Public Procurement and Concession Contracts.

Last year, Kela launched a development project that focuses particular attention on responsible procurement.

Learn more (in Finnish): How do you ensure that the maternity package is in compliance with ethical standards?