Exceptions to the unemployment security: What should the unemployed take into account in the new year?
Exceptions were made to the Act on Unemployment Security Act due to the coronavirus pandemic. The aim has been to ensure the livelihood of employees and entrepreneurs. Some of the exceptions will continue until the end of March 2021. The extended right of laid-off employees to study during the lay-off period will continue until the end of 2021.
The President of the Republic approved the amendments to the Act on Unemployment Security on 17 December 2020. The new amendments will enter into force on 1 January 2021.
Laid-off employees can study without losing unemployment security
Laid-off employees have had a temporary right to study full-time without the studies having an effect on their unemployment benefit. This amendment will remain in force until 31 December 2021. The amendment will apply to those laid off on or after 16 March 2020.
The amendment will help those laid-off employees, who work and study, to apply for and receive unemployment benefit, because the TE Office does not assess whether the studies are of full-time or part-time nature.
Entrepreneurs may be entitled to labour market support
Entrepreneurs have been temporarily entitled to labour market support if full-time work in the company has ended due to the coronavirus pandemic. This amendment will remain in force until 31 March 2021.
In order to receive labour market support, a person must register as a jobseeker with the TE Office and the TE Office must issue a labour policy statement on their entitlement to labour market support to the Social Insurance Institution of Finland (Kela).
Adjustment of business income, which is based on the entrepreneur’s own declaration, will also continue until the end of March.
Exceptions to adjustment of unemployment benefit
The exempt amount of unemployment benefit has been temporarily raised from EUR 300 to EUR 500 per month (i.e., from EUR 279 to EUR 465 per four calendar weeks). This change will remain in force until 31 March 2021.
In order to ease the processing of unemployment benefit applications, so-called special periods of adjusted unemployment security and the related imputed pay would not be applied in the adjustment of unemployment security until 31 March 2021.
The exception related to the adjustment of business income, which is based on the entrepreneur’s own declaration, will until 31 March 2021 also apply to other beneficiaries of unemployment security than entrepreneurs who receive labour market support on the basis of the exception mentioned above.
Unemployment benefit can be paid as an advance
It has been possible to pay unemployment benefit temporarily based on an application as an advance payment for a maximum period of six months without a decision. Normally, the maximum time is two months. This exception will remain in force until 31 March 2021.
Mobility allowance can be granted for commutes over two hours
The commuting and relocation allowance will be temporarily available to persons who work full-time and whose daily commute at the start of employment takes at least two hours. Normally, a commute of at least three hours is required. The allowance can also be paid to persons who move because of a job to a distance comparable to the daily commuting requirement. The exception will apply to work that began no later than 31 March 2021.
Some exceptions to end on 31 December
Some of the temporary legislative amendments adopted as a result of the coronavirus pandemic will remain in force until the end of 2020. After that, normal legislation will apply.
Legislative amendments in force until 31 December 2020:
- Job search does not expire due to errors made in the TE Services online service.
- The right of jobseekers to unemployment benefit continues despite short-term studies referred to in the Act on Unemployment Security, even if the studies are delayed by more than six months due to the coronavirus pandemic.
- Jobseekers may discontinue participation in an employment-promoting service for a justified reason due to the coronavirus pandemic.
- The maximum period of 24 or 48 months for self-motivated studies by jobseekers is extended if the study progress has been delayed due to the coronavirus pandemic.
- Persons who have become unemployed or laid-off are entitled to unemployment benefit during the five-day waiting period.
- Employees may be entitled to unemployment benefit if they have been in paid employment for at least 13 calendar weeks, instead of the normal 26 calendar weeks.
- There is no maximum period for receiving unemployment allowance.
What should an unemployed jobseeker do?
The right of unemployed jobseekers to unemployment benefits remains unchanged when they act in accordance with instructions received from the TE Office and the unemployment fund or Kela. If you have any questions, you should contact either the TE Office through its online service or the body that pays the unemployment benefit.
The instructions are available on the website of TE Services, Kela and the Federation of Unemployment Funds in Finland TYJ (see links below).
Eeva Vartio, Senior Specialist, Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment, tel. +358 295 047 082 (unemployment benefits for laid-off persons who study and labour market support for entrepreneurs)
Joni Rehunen, Senior Specialist, Ministry of Social Affairs and Health, tel. +358 295 516 3435 (adjusted unemployment benefit and mobility allowance)