Rights and status of customers
Social welfare customers have the right to receive social services of a good quality from social service providers and with equal treatment and no discrimination. Customers must be treated by respecting their beliefs and privacy and in a way that does not violate their dignity.
Social welfare service providers must take the customer’s wishes, opinions, benefit, individual needs, native language and cultural background into account.
The rights and responsibilities of social welfare customer are defined in the Act on the Status and Rights of Social Welfare Clients. The provisions of this act apply to both public and private social welfare sectors.
Rights and responsibilities
Customers have the right to good-quality social welfare services.
Customers have the right to be treated with dignity and respect without violating their privacy.
Customer’s wishes, opinions, benefit, individual needs, native language and cultural background must be taken into account in the provision of social welfare services.
The customers’ right of self-determination must be honoured.
Customers have the right to participate in and contribute to the planning and provision of their services. If a customer is over the age of 18 and unable to participate in and contribute to the planning and provision of their services, the customer’s wishes must be identified together with their legal representative, next of kin or someone else close to them. Opinions of customers under the age of 18 must be taken into consideration as appropriate for their age and development level.
Customers have the right to obtain information about their rights and responsibilities and what options are available to them and what impact different options have as well as any others relevant specifics.
Customers have the right to access data recorded about them and to request the rectification of any inaccurate data. Based on their status as an interested party, customers have the right to obtain information from a document that may be or may have been used in the processing of their case.
Customers have the right to obtain a written copy of the decision or agreement regarding the provision of social welfare services.
As a general rule, a client or service plan must be drawn up for every customer.
Customers have the right to appeal a decision in the manner described in the instructions for appealing a decision. These instructions are appended to the decision.
Customers have the right to file an objection concerning their treatment with a person in charge of a social welfare facility or an executive social welfare officer. Customers also have the right to file a complaint with their local Regional State Administrative Agency.
Local social welfare ombudsmen give customers information about their rights and, where necessary, help customers prepare a complaint.
Customers have the responsibility to provide information needed in the coordination and provision of social welfare services.
If customers feel that they have been treated unfairly or need advice on customer rights and obligations, they will primarily be assisted by municipal officers for social affairs. Officers for social affairs are there to help customers of both public and private social welfare sectors. Customers’ family members and others close to them may also contact an officer for social affairs.
The duties of an officer for social affairs are based on the Act on the Status and Rights of Social Welfare Clients and they include:
- advising social welfare customers on matters related to their rights and status
- helping customers to file an objection concerning their treatment with a person in charge of a social welfare facility or an executive social welfare officer
- informing customers of their rights
- working to promote and exercise customers’ rights in any other way
- monitoring the development of the status and rights of customers in the municipality and preparing an annual report on the findings for the municipal council.
Officers for social affairs work in an advisory role. Officers for social affairs do not make decisions or grant welfare benefits. They also cannot revoke or amend decisions made by an authority.
You can contact your local officer for social affairs if you need help filing a objection or complaint regarding the work or decisions of your local social welfare services. Call your municipality’s telephone exchange for the contact information of your local officer for social affairs. You can also often find the contact details on the municipality’s website.
Frequently asked questions
If you are not satisfied with a social welfare service you have received, you can file an objection with the unit that provided the service. You also have the right to file a complaint with your local Regional State Administrative Agency.