Saturday 1/16/21
SOCIAL SECURITY

Temporary changes to unemployment benefit laws extended to March 2021

Unemployed jobseekers must make an employment plan with TE Services. If no plan is made, you can lose your unemployment benefit.
Office of the Finnish Social Security Institution (Kela) in Espoo. Photo: © Foreigner.fi.
Office of the Finnish Social Security Institution (Kela) in Espoo. Photo: © Foreigner.fi.

The government has extended until 31 March 2021 several temporary changes made to the unemployment benefit laws due to the coronavirus pandemic.

According to a summary published by the Finnish social security agency (Kela), self-employed people will remain eligible for labour market subsidy payments until 31 March 2021 if their business has suffered due to the coronavirus epidemic. However, some exceptions made to the rules on waiting periods, work requirements and maximum length of payment will expire at the end of 2020.

But overall, many of the changes made to the legislation governing the provision of unemployment benefits will be extended.

For example the changes approved in the exempt amount, which is the amount of money that an unemployed jobseeker may earn without a reduction in unemployment benefit, will remain in force until the end of March 2021. Higher exempt amounts of 500 euros and 465 euros apply respectively to persons with adjustment periods of one month or four weeks.

Earnings can be adjusted with unemployment benefits in periods of four weeks or one month even when the period includes days for which the applicant is not entitled to unemployment benefits. Commuting and relocation allowance is payable until 31 March 2021 for trips to and from a full-time place of employment, if the two-way trip takes more than two hours per day.

More information on these changes can be found at Kela's page on the ‘Unemployment benefits in the coronavirus situation’ .

Benefits for the self-employed

Self-employed workers remain eligible for labour market subsidy payments from Kela until 31 March 2021 if they are no longer active in their business on a full-time basis or if their income has decreased due to the coronavirus epidemic.

The eligibility is not conditional on a specific form of incorporation and does not require the termination of all self-employment activity.

Until 31 March 2021, self-employed people may self-report to Kela any changes in income which are relevant for purposes of adjustment with the unemployment benefit. Normally, the tax information for the previous year is used when adjusting the income from self-employment.

Temporary changes expiring in 2020

Some of the temporary changes will cease to be in effect at the end of 2020. Starting 1 January 2021, applications for unemployment benefits are processed in the following manner:

  • Unemployment benefits are payable after a waiting period of 5 days. If the payment of the unemployment benefit starts 31 December 2020 at the latest, unemployment benefit can be paid for the waiting period.
  • The maximum payment period of the unemployment period will start, meaning that basic unemployment allowance can be paid for a maximum of 300 or 400 days depending on the length of your employment history. Any days of unemployment have not been taken into account in the maximum payment period for unemployment allowances between 16 March and 31 December 2020 for persons who are temporarily laid off and between 1 July and 31 December 2020 for persons who are fully unemployed.
  • The work requirement for the unemployment allowance will again be 26 weeks. An applicant for unemployment benefits can be granted basic unemployment allowance from Kela, if the applicant has worked at least 26 weeks during the preceding 28 months and the other entitlement criteria are also met. The short work requirement of 13 weeks is applied if the payment of the basic unemployment allowance has started on 31 December 2020 at the latest.
  • TE Services investigates whether the self-employment activity of a temporarily laid off person is to be considered work on a full-time or a part-time basis.
  • Unemployed jobseekers must make an employment plan with TE Services. If no plan is made, you can lose your unemployment benefit.

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