Frequently asked questions about the activation model for unemployment security

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  • Who monitors my compliance with the activation requirements? Who should I notify about steps I take to meet the activation requirements?

    Under the activation model it is the payer of your unemployment benefit that does the monitoring and decides on the amount of your unemployment benefit. So, if you are receiving labour market support or basic unemployment allowance, the monitoring is by Kela (the Social Insurance Institution of Finland). And if you are receiving earnings-related unemployment allowance, the monitoring is by your own unemployment fund.

    Using the same form that you use for applying for unemployment benefit, you should notify Kela or your own unemployment fund of any hours of paid work that you do and the pay received for this, as well as any income from self-employment or any other activity satisfying the activation requirements.   

    The Employment and Economic Development Office (the TE Office) does not do any of this monitoring and does not decide on whether the activation requirements apply to you.

  • What is the role of the TE Office in the activation model?

    The role of the TE Offices has not changed with the activation model. The TE Offices do not do any of the monitoring required under the activation model.

    Your TE Office can give you information about employment-promoting services and how you can participate in these. The TE Office is also involved in the decision-making on who can participate in employment-promoting services. In some of these services the TE Office takes the decision itself on whether you can participate and whether you can receive unemployment security on the basis of the service (see especially ‘What are the self-motivated studies that can count towards satisfying the activation requirements?’). You can also get information from the TE Office about other employment-promoting services and activities that it arranges.

    More information:  

    The payer of your unemployment benefit (i.e. Kela if you are receiving labour market support or basic unemployment allowance, or your own unemployment fund if you are receiving earnings-related unemployment allowance) will monitor whether you meet the activation requirements. It will do this monitoring on the basis of the information you give in your application for labour market support, basic unemployment allowance or earnings-related unemployment allowance. 

  • How should I give notification about the steps I take to satisfy the activation requirements?

    Check with Kela (if you are receiving labour market support or basic unemployment allowance) or with your own unemployment fund (if you are receiving earnings-related unemployment allowance) about their instructions for notifying hours of work and pay if you are in paid employment. Kela and the unemployment funds may also have information on their own websites about filling in applications. You should also carefully read the completion instructions supplied with the application form. The Ministry of Social Affairs and Health requires that you give your notification in the same way as when applying for adjusted unemployment benefit, and you should also ensure that your hours of work are always notified.

    If you earn income from self-employment, this should be notified in the same way as you would if applying for adjusted unemployment benefit. If your unemployment benefit is to be adjusted on the basis of income from self-employment using confirmed tax information, the latter will be sufficient as notification, and if accounts are used in the adjustment, the accounting record will be sufficient as notification. If, on the other hand, you bill via a service provider and the adjustment of your unemployment benefit is made using documentation of the income recorded by the service provider, this will also be sufficient as notification under the activation model. Self-employment does not require a business ID. You should check with Kela (if you are receiving labour market support or basic unemployment allowance) or with your own unemployment fund (if you are receiving earnings-related unemployment allowance) about how they define self-employment. 

    If you are participating in an employment-promoting service, the payer of your unemployment benefit will receive a labour policy statement from the TE Office. In your application you should give notification of this participation, following the instructions given by Kela (if you are receiving labour market support or basic unemployment allowance) or your own unemployment fund (if you are receiving earnings-related unemployment allowance).

    Kela’s instructions for filling in applications under the activation model can also be found here.

  • Why does the monitoring refer to a review period of 65 benefit payment days, and how is this 65-day total arrived at?

    The period of 65 benefit payment days equates to about three months of continuous unemployment.

    The period of 65 benefit payment days means 65 weekdays (= Mon–Fri) for which you receive unemployment benefit (i.e. labour market support, basic unemployment allowance or earnings-related unemployment allowance).

    The accumulation of these benefit payment days is calculated by the payer of your unemployment benefit, i.e. Kela or your own unemployment fund. You do not need to calculate the period yourself, unless you wish to follow your progress towards meeting the activation requirements.

    The 65 benefit payment days can be accumulated either on a continuous basis or in spells if there are interruptions in the payment of unemployment benefit. The payment of unemployment benefit will be interrupted if, for example, you fall ill and receive sickness allowance (which means that payment of unemployment benefit is suspended) or if there is an interruption in your jobseeker status.

  • What happens if I’m ill and can't make it into work?

    If you fall ill and receive pay for sick days, the working hours corresponding to this pay will count towards satisfying the activation requirements. If you remain unfit for work for such a period that you become eligible for sickness allowance, the monitoring of your progress in meeting the activation requirements will be suspended at the start of the sickness allowance and will continue when you again become an unemployment benefit recipient.

  • I have a part-time job – does annual leave count towards the activation requirements?

    The working hours corresponding to the pay received for paid annual leave will count towards satisfying the activation requirements. 

  • What are employment-promoting services?

    Employment-promoting services are defined in the Unemployment Security Act as follows:

    Employment-promoting service means job search training, career counselling, labour market training and jobseeker self-motivated study supported with unemployment benefit, as referred to in the Act on Public Business and Employment Services; try-outs referred to in chapter 4, section 5, subsection 1, paragraphs 1 and 2 of the same Act; labour market training referred to in the Vocational Education and Training Act; self-motivated study referred to in sections 22–24 of the Act on the Promotion of Immigrant Integration; and rehabilitative work activity referred to in the Act on Rehabilitative Work.

    For an activity to be an employment-promoting service in your particular case, it has to be one of the activities referred to above that has been approved as such for you by the TE Office. See also ‘What are the self-motivated studies that can count towards satisfying the activation requirements?’.

    The TE Office also arranges other services and activities that offer support in finding work and which can count towards satisfying the activation requirements.

  • How can I make use of services that offer support in finding work? Do I have a right to use such services?

    The TE Office will determine whether you can participate in employment-promoting services; it will make this decision on the basis of whether the service will be of benefit to you in finding work. There is no automatic right to these services - instead, the decision is made with due consideration given to the wider labour market policy context.

    For more about employment-promoting services and their use, go to

    If you want to find out more about participating in employment-promoting services, contact your local TE Office. 

  • If I use these services, how will this satisfy the activation requirements?

    If you participate in an employment-promoting service, this will normally be on the basis of a labour market policy statement issued by the TE Office. The TE Office issues the statement to Kela (if you are receiving labour market support or basic unemployment allowance) or to your own unemployment fund (if you are receiving earnings-related unemployment allowance). The statement will normally specify a starting date and an end date, denoting your participation period.

    Within the participation period, if you are absent for a reason that prevents payment of benefit, the absence period in question will not be counted towards satisfying the activation requirements. You can get more information from Kela (if you are receiving labour market support or basic unemployment allowance) or from your own unemployment fund (if you are receiving earnings-related unemployment allowance). 

  • What are the self-motivated studies that can count towards satisfying the activation requirements?

    In the activation model, the only self-motivated studies that can satisfy the activation requirements are those that are supported through unemployment benefit. This means studies for which you have applied to the TE Office for support, and the support has been agreed in an employment plan or in another approved plan. Such support is always at the discretion of the TE Office.

    To read more about self-motivated studies as an employment-promoting service, go to

    If the decision was made not to grant unemployment benefit to support your studies, then the studies will not satisfy the activation requirements. This concerns those full-time studies in which you are not entitled to unemployment benefit and also studies considered to be part-time in which you may be eligible for unemployment benefit.

  • If I have earnings from self-employment, how will this satisfy the activation requirements? Can self-employment mean that I cannot receive unemployment benefit?

    Self-employment will satisfy the activation requirements if the income you receive from it totals at least EUR 241 during the period of 65 benefit payment days (2018 figures). The income can be earned at any time during the period.

     

    You should notify the income in the same way that you notify income when applying for adjusted unemployment benefit. If your unemployment benefit is to be adjusted on the basis of income from self-employment using confirmed tax information, the latter will be sufficient as notification, and if accounts are used in the adjustment, the accounting record will be sufficient as notification. If, on the other hand, you bill via a service provider and the adjustment of your unemployment benefit is made using documentation of the income recorded by the service provider, this will also be sufficient as notification under the activation model. Self-employment does not require a business ID.

    The Unemployment Security Act was amended on 1 January 2018, and these amendments also concern self-employment. If your self-employment begins during your period of unemployment, the full or part-time nature of the self-employment is not assessed in the first four months after starting the self-employment. As an unemployed jobseeker you would receive unemployment benefit for the period mentioned. If you earn income from self-employment during this four-month period, you will be paid adjusted unemployment benefit.

    If, after the four-month period, the TE Office considers that your self-employment is full-time, you will no longer be entitled to unemployment benefit. To read more about engaging in self-employment while being unemployed and how the implications of self-employment are assessed by the TE Office, go to

  • What is adjusted unemployment benefit?

    If you are partially employed, you may be entitled to unemployment benefit adjusted on the basis of your earned income. Labour market support, basic unemployment allowance and earnings-related unemployment allowance can be paid in adjusted form if you become employed for up to two weeks full-time as an employee or in full-time self-employment; or if you work part-time or in a temporary post or in other short work spells as an employee; or if you are in part-time self-employment. More information about adjusted unemployment benefit is available from Kela (in the case of labour market support or basic unemployment allowance) or from you own unemployment fund (in the case of earnings-related unemployment allowance).

    If your gross earnings for the month are no more than EUR 300, your unemployment benefit will be paid in full. If your gross earnings exceed EUR 300, your unemployment benefit will, under normal circumstances, be adjusted downwards by an amount equal to half of the earnings in excess of EUR 300. You can do your own test calculations in regard to labour market support and basic unemployment allowance here, and in regard to earnings-related unemployment allowance here.

    Take a look, too, at the instructions given by Kela or your own unemployment fund concerning applications for adjusted unemployment benefit. And remember to enter your hours worked on the application form!

  • I’ve been laid off, so does the activation model apply to me as well?

    If you have been fully laid off by your employer, the activation model will apply to you only when you have received unemployment benefit for an uninterrupted period of 65 benefit payment days. The activation model does not apply to you if your lay-off concerns only certain days of the working week (e.g. you are in full-time work on Mondays and Wednesdays but fully laid off on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays) or alternate weeks, or while you are receiving unemployment benefit continuously for a maximum of 65 days on the basis of being laid off. 

  • What is the activation model and the work requirement?

    To avoid unnecessarily creating completely new criteria in the unemployment security system, the assessment of activation in regard to paid employment and self-employment is based on existing criteria concerning unemployment benefit entitlement (the ‘work requirement’ criteria). However, there is also work that would not meet the work requirement criteria but would count towards satisfying the activation requirements.

    ‘Work requirement’ criterion:

    In the case of someone who was in paid employment, the nature of their unemployment benefit entitlement will depend on the amount of work performed in calendar weeks consisting of a minimum of 18 hours’ work per week, where the pay is in accordance with the applicable collective agreement and the statutory employer and employee insurance contributions have been paid, including the unemployment insurance contribution (this is the main rule followed). If there is no applicable collective agreement, the hourly wage must be based on the minimum of EUR 1,189 per month for full-time work (in 2018).

    In the case of a self-employed person, the nature of their unemployment benefit entitlement will depend on whether they meet the minimum level of income received from self-employment: incomes under the Self-Employed Persons' Pensions Act (YEL) and the Farmers' Pensions Act (MYEL) or earnings as a part-owner in a business under the Employees’ Pensions Act (TyEL) will need to have been altogether at least EUR 12,576 annually, or EUR 1,048 per month (figures for 2018).

    Activation requirements under the activation model:

    In terms of paid employment, the activation requirements are met if during the period of 65 benefit payment days you have been in paid employment for a total of at least 18 hours (not per week, but across the full period of 65 benefit payment days). The hours of paid work do not need to be performed in a single calendar week but can be spread across the period. Neither do the hours need to be with a single employer but can be with different employers. The hours can also be in part-time work or can be based on a so-called zero-hours contract. The essential thing is that if the hours had been worked in one calendar week, they would have met the work requirement for entitlement to unemployment benefit.

    In terms of self-employment, the activation requirements are met if the earned income from self-employment during the period of 65 benefit payment days totals at least 23 per cent of the income required to meet the work requirement concerning unemployment benefit entitlement. The 23 per cent equates to EUR 241.04 (using 2018 figures). The income can be accumulated within a particular month or even over the entire period of 65 benefit payment days.

    More information on the work requirement can be obtained from Kela or your own unemployment fund. 

  • What support is available for moving, journey-to-work costs and job-hunting trips?

    Costs incurred in starting work can be reimbursed by means of the commuting and relocation allowance. Applications for the commuting and relocation allowance, and payment of any such allowance, are dealt with by Kela (if you do not belong to an unemployment fund) or by your own unemployment fund.

    Costs related to job search trips can be reimbursed by the TE Office in cases where this is deemed appropriate in terms of employment and labour availability.

    More information on the commuting and relocation allowance and on the reimbursement of travel costs can be found at: http://www.te-palvelut.fi/te/en/special_pages/travel_expenses/index.html. Also, on the commuting and relocation allowance: http://www.kela.fi/web/en/commuting-and-relocation-allowance1 ja https://www.tyj.fi/eng/earnings-related_allowance/mobility_allowance/.

  • When will my unemployment benefit return to normal if it has been reduced?

    If, during the time you receive unemployment benefit, there is a period of 65 benefit payment days when you do not meet the activation requirements, the benefit will be reduced for the following period of 65 benefit payment days. If you are able to meet the activation requirements during this new period of 65 benefit payment days, your benefit will return to normal in the next period of 65 benefit payment days. You can find more information here: Take a look at the diagram in particular.

    Your unemployment benefit will also return to normal in cases where you have started to receive the reduced amount of benefit but then: 

    1. you become employed full-time in paid work for an uninterrupted period of more than two weeks, before returning to be a benefit recipient again; or 
    2. you become self-employed on a full-time basis for an uninterrupted period of more than two weeks, before returning to be a benefit recipient again; or
    3. you become partially employed and no adjusted unemployment benefit is payable for the application period on account of the amount of income from employment or the time employed, after which you return to being a benefit recipient again; or
    4. you become an unemployment benefit recipient again after the TE Office, in a written statement, has imposed a period without benefit, or after the end of a duty-to-work period.

    The amount of unemployment benefit will also return to normal if it was being paid in reduced form and the benefit recipient meets the work requirement again. At the same time, the maximum period of payment that applies to the unemployment allowance will be restarted from the beginning.

  • Can voluntary work satisfy the activation requirements?

    Voluntary work, including informal voluntary work, does not count towards satisfying the activation requirements. Voluntary work is not paid employment, self-employment, an employment-promoting service or an activity arranged by the employment authorities. 

  • By how much can my labour market support/basic unemployment allowance/earnings-related unemployment allowance shrink due to the activation model?

    The full unemployment benefit can be reduced by 4.65 per cent. This reduction is not cumulative, which means that the benefit cannot get steadily smaller.

  • Under the activation model could I end up without any unemployment benefit at all?

    The reduction in unemployment benefit made in accordance with the activation model is not cumulative, even if you have successive periods of 65 benefit payment days when you do not meet the activation requirements. 

  • If I have a reduced unemployment benefit, how would the adjusted unemployment benefit be calculated?

    If you have a reduced unemployment benefit and you receive adjusted unemployment benefit, the adjustment is made on the reduced unemployment benefit. You can find out more here:

    See especially the calculation examples ‘Practical examples of activation paths’.

  • While I am unemployed I am receiving another benefit - how is this treated under the activation model?

    Other benefits received in parallel with unemployment benefit have different effects under the activation model.

    If, alongside your unemployment benefit, you receive another benefit that is based on incapacity for work or a disability, the activation model will not apply to you. Such benefits include partial disability pension, partial rehabilitation allowance and disability allowance. Further information is available from Kela (in the case of labour market support and basic unemployment allowance) or your own unemployment fund (in the case of earnings-related unemployment allowance). You should also check how to notify Kela or your own unemployment fund about such a benefit.

    Other benefits do not exclude you from the scope of the activation model. Many of these benefits are treated as income that may be deducted from unemployment benefits. If, having failed to satisfy the activation requirements, your unemployment benefit has been reduced by 4.65 per cent, any such deductions will be taken off the reduced unemployment benefit.

  • When does the activation model apply if you are sick/unfit for work and receiving unemployment benefit?

    The activation model basically applies to those who are receiving unemployment benefit. If the payment of your unemployment benefit is interrupted because you are receiving sickness allowance, for example, your activeness in meeting the activation model requirements will not be monitored during the period you receive sickness allowance. Where the period of 65 benefit payment days is interrupted in this way, it will continue after the period of your sickness allowance if you once again become a recipient of unemployment benefit. 

    However, in the following situations the activation model will not apply to you even though you are receiving unemployment benefit (i.e. your fulfilment of the activation requirements will not be monitored and your benefit will not be reduced):

    1. Alongside your unemployment benefit you receive another benefit that is based on incapacity for work or a disability. Such benefits include partial disability pension, partial rehabilitation allowance and disability allowance. More information on these benefits can be obtained from Kela or your own unemployment fund.
    2. You have applied for a disability pension and your application is being processed by a pension institution.

    In situations other than 1 and 2, the activation model applies. A doctor's certificate indicating incapacity for work is not sufficient to exempt you from the activation requirements. Only in the situations referred to in 1 and 2 above will the activation model NOT apply. The activation model will apply to you if your application for a disability pension has been rejected and you are applying for a review of the decision. 

  • I’m on extended unemployment allowance, i.e. on an unemployment path to retirement. Does the activation model apply to me?

    The activation model also applies to unemployment benefit recipients who are on extended basic unemployment allowance or extended earnings related unemployment allowance. 

  • Is the requirement concerning hours worked in paid employment always 18 hours per period of 65 benefit payment days?

    If you are teaching in an educational establishment, the requirement concerning hours worked in paid employment (see ‘What is the activation model and the work requirement?’) is fulfilled with a smaller number of hours than in other jobs. This number of hours must be equivalent to at least half of the calendar-week work requirement for a full-time teacher (in the teaching task in question) to be entitled to basic unemployment allowance, or, if no working time is specified for a full-time teacher in that task, a minimum of 8 hours.

    In specified creative and artistic fields the requirement concerning hours worked is met instead on the basis of income earned.

    Ask for more information about meeting the work requirement from Kela or your own unemployment fund. 

  • I did 17.5 hours of paid work during the period of 65 benefit payment days. Is that enough to fulfil the activation requirements, or will my unemployment benefit be reduced?

    The main rule is that anything less than 18 hours of paid work will not satisfy the activation requirements. See under ‘Is the requirement concerning hours worked in paid employment always 18 hours per period of 65 benefit payment days?’ for details of the circumstances in which a smaller number of hours worked can satisfy the requirements. 

  • At the start of the period of 65 benefit payment days I was 3 days in an employment-promoting service. Can I top this up with something else to meet the overall activation requirements?

    The different ways of meeting the activation requirements in the activation model cannot be combined.

Further information