Job seekers allowed to study without losing unemployment benefits
The Finnish Government has approved an amendment to the Unemployment Security Act, extending the possibilities of unemployed job seekers to pursue studies without losing their eligibility for unemployment benefit. The goal is to improve access to employment and facilitate the setting up of new businesses.
The Unemployment Security Act is amended to allow unemployed job seekers aged 25 years or more to pursue studies for up to six months without losing their unemployment benefit. A condition is that the studies improve the job seeker’s professional skills or help them set up a new business, as informed the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment in a press release.
“It is important to support skills development so that jobs and job seekers in Finland meet better than at present,” said the minister of Employment Jari Lindström.
A key difference to the current situation is that the Employment and Economic Development Office will no longer first assess the job seeker’s need for studies or the full or part-time nature of the studies. However, job seekers are still required to notify the Office of any studies lasting up to six months. These changes will enter into force on December 31st 2018.
“The purpose of the amendment is that unemployed job seekers could start studies to improve their access to employment without fear of losing their unemployment benefit. I’m glad that the amendment also improves the chances of job seekers to meet their obligations under the activation model,” Lindström declared.
The job seekers who receive unemployment benefit will still be obligated to apply for and accept full-time work and attend employment-promoting services offered to them. Studies will not be a valid reason to turn down an offered work or service.
The financial support to students will continue to be the primary means of income support for full-time students. This is especially true for younger persons, since the amendment will only apply to persons aged 25 years or more.
So, unemployed job seekers will not lose the unemployment benefit due to studies if:
- The job seeker is at least 25 years old.
- The studies take at most six months to complete.
- The studies improve the job seeker’s professional skills or help them set up a new business.
Changes to the activation model regarding studies
Unemployed job seekers will be able to use studies to meet their activation requirement under the activation model and avoid a reduction in their unemployment benefit.
Unemployment benefit will not be lowered if an unemployed job seeker studies for at least five days during the review period in the activation model, provided that the studies meet the criteria under the Unemployment Security Act.
- Unemployed job seekers regardless of their age can meet the activation requirement with demonstrated part-time studies if the studies have lasted at least five days during the review period. The upper limit for studies under the activation model is six months.
- In case an unemployed job seeker has not received unemployment benefit during his or her full-time studies and the studies have lasted at least five days, the review period in the activation model will be reset at the end of studies and the benefit amount will not be lowered.
- Part-time studies that meet the activation requirement in the activation model include, among others, courses organised by liberal adult education institutions, such as adult education centres.