Majority of unemployed job-seekers see their benefits cut due to the new legislation

The new statistics show that the fears surrounding the new amended employment security legislation have unfortunately come true. More than half of those receiving unemployment benefit from the SAK unions' funds have seen their benefits cut.
30.04. 15:32
SAK
SAK and trade unions organised a demonstration against the jobseeker activation scheme in Helsinki on 2 February. Photo: Sergei Julle.

The new statistics show that the fears surrounding the new amended employment security legislation have unfortunately come true. More than half of those receiving unemployment benefit from the SAK unions' funds have seen their benefits cut.

The Finnish Government last year introduced legislation stipulating that an unemployed job-seeker may forfeit 4.65 percent of his or her benefit if they are deemed to be less than active in their search for employment.

This means that the job-seeker must either find employment for 18 hours in a three-month-period, receive entrepreneurial income of at least 241 euro or participate in a five-day-training-course or for other services offered by the employment offices.

The new law has now been in effect for four months and the unemployment funds are able to draw their first conclusions. 

The Central Organisation of Finnish Trade Unions SAK has collected preliminary information from eight of their member unions. The result is that 53 per cent of those getting earnings-related benefits from the union funds have not been able to meet the criteria to get full benefits. 

In other words: the majority have seen their benefits cut. SAK estimates that the new legislation might cut unemployment payouts by a total of 80 million euro this year. This will be on the top of the 200 million euro cut in unemployment benefit the Government made earlier.

Same development everywhere

Kela, the Social Insurance Institution of Finland paid the labour market subsidy or basic unemployment allowance to 187,400 people on the first three months of this year. 50.2 per cent of these were not able to meet the new criteria and their benefits were cut, also.

SAK member union JHL, the Trade Union for the Public and Welfare Sectors calculated that some 60 per cent of their unemployed members have had a cut in their benefits. The figures given by Kela are very much in line with those given by the union funds and SAK.

On the basis of the information available now it seems that to meet the criteria for full benefit depends strongly on age and the field of work of the unemployed job-seeker. SAK has opposed the new legislation precisely for this reason: it treats the unemployed unequally.

Saana Siekkinen. Photo: Patrik Lindström.

Saana Siekkinen, SAK Head of Development Project of Unemployment Security says that in the service sector it has been easier to meet the criteria, as there are many who do part-time work.

"The worst situation seems to be in various fields of industry, transport and public and welfare sectors. There are many branches with barely any short term jobs available", Siekkinen says.

In January SAK published its own encouragement scheme for employment security as an alternative to the Government line. It includes better services for all unemployed job-seekers with less and simpler sanctions.

Read more:
The new unfair unemployment security legislation meets strong opposition from trade unions (25.01.2018)

Heikki Jokinen