Cancellation of Gigs

Gigs may be canceled for various reasons. Whether compensation is provided for the canceled work depends on the nature of the contractual relationship (employment contract or commission contract) and the terms of the agreement.

If a gig is performed under an employment relationship, the employment contract can only be terminated based on the grounds specified in the Employment Contracts Act.

Employment contracts are either fixed-term or indefinite. Typically, for a single gig, it’s a fixed-term employment contract, covering only the one-time work performance. A fixed-term employment contract binds the parties to the agreed duration of the contract. A fixed-term employment contract cannot be terminated unless there is a specific provision in the contract allowing termination.

According to the Employment Contracts Act, a fixed-term employment contract can only be terminated for a very weighty reason. Such a reason could be a serious breach or neglect of obligations significantly affecting the employment relationship arising from the employment contract or the law, to the extent that the employer cannot reasonably be expected to continue the contract even for the duration of the notice period. Therefore, for example, poor ticket sales do not constitute grounds for termination under the Employment Contracts Act.

If the employer did not have the right to terminate the employment contract under the Employment Contracts Act, the employee has the right to compensation for the unjustified termination of the employment contract, meaning that the employer is obliged to compensate the employee for the damage incurred. In most cases, for individual gigs, the compensation corresponds to the agreed fee for the gig.

An employee in an employment relationship has the right to receive their salary for up to 14 days if work is completely prevented at the workplace due to reasons beyond the control of both the employee and the employer. This is regulated in Section 12(2) of Chapter 2 of the Employment Contracts Act, and the provision is mandatory. Payment of salary in these situations cannot be agreed upon differently through a collective agreement or an employment contract. The employer cannot avoid the obligation to pay salary for 14 days by laying off employees whose work is prevented.

For the provision to apply, work must have been completely prevented. Such a situation occurred, for example, during the coronavirus pandemic when performance activities at workplaces were completely prevented due to official orders. However, the employee’s right to salary when work is prevented requires that the employee has been available to the employer. Therefore, if a particular shift/gig has not been canceled, the employee should remain available until the cancellation is announced.

The 14-day period begins from the first day when work is prevented. The matter is assessed on a case-by-case basis for each employee.

In commission agreements, the basic principle is that a binding contract cannot be canceled without a force majeure reason. However, within the framework of contractual freedom, musicians and the gig client can freely agree on cancellation terms.

If the commission agreement does not stipulate the client’s right to cancel the gig, the client is generally obliged to pay the agreed fee in full.

If there is a disagreement with the contracting party regarding the situation and payment of compensation, members of the Musicians’ Union can contact the union:

Lawyer Ilona Vartiainen:
Shop Steward Juho Viljanen:, +358 (0) 40 527 2470

Sometimes, in the event of gig cancellations, the gig client may invoke their right to cancel the gig due to a force majeure event.

Force majeure is considered to be an event that: 1) occurs after the contract is made, 2) is beyond the control of the parties, 3) was not foreseeable at the time of contracting, and 4) prevents the contract from being fulfilled in whole or in part, or makes it unreasonably difficult. All of these conditions must be met for the force majeure event to exempt the parties from their contractual obligations. If the obstacle leading to cancellation could have been foreseen at the time of contracting, it does not qualify as force majeure.

According to general principles of contract law, force majeure can be invoked in a commission contract relationship. In employment relationships, however, the provisions of the Employment Contracts Act regarding the employee’s right to salary when work is prevented would apply.

Contracts may already contain force majeure clauses, but it is also possible to invoke force majeure without an explicit contractual clause.