Temporary changes in unemployment benefit and services for the unemployed

Updated on 16 March, 2021.

Which coronavirus exceptions for unemployment benefit expired at the end of 2020?

Several temporary changes were made during the spring and summer 2020 to the laws governing unemployment benefit in Finland due to the coronavirus pandemic. Many of these exceptional arrangements expired at the end of the year.

  • A five-day waiting period for unemployment benefit applies again for all such periods beginning after 31 December 2020. No unemployment benefit is payable for this initial waiting period.
  • The exceptional three-month employment and fund membership condition for earnings-related unemployment benefit returns to six months for all earnings-related daily allowance payments beginning after 31 December 2020. The employment condition means that eligible jobseekers must have been adequately employed for at least 26 weeks during the preceding 28 months. Payment of earnings-related daily allowance also requires the jobseeker to be a member of the unemployment fund for at least six months before the onset of unemployment.
  • Deductions from the maximum period of eligibility for unemployment benefit is restored after the end of 2020. No such deduction has been made for workers furloughed since 16 March and for other unemployment benefit claimants since July. The previous practice of paying unemployment benefits for 300, 400 or 500 days depending on the circumstances will be restored from the beginning of January. Jobseekers must claim labour market support from Kela if their unemployment continues for longer than the maximum benefit period.

Which exceptions for jobseekers’ services expired at the end of 2020?

  • Registration in the TE service ia discontinued as of the beginning of January if the jobseeker has not prepared a service need assessment or an employment plan.
  • The lifting of exceptions also means that payment of unemployment benefit may once again be temporarily suspended if a jobseeker drops out of employment promotion measures.
  • Restrictions that generally cause a temporary loss of unemployment benefit when short-term studies are prolonged for longer than six months has been reinstated if the studies are found to be full-time.
  • The progress of voluntary studies is once again monitored normally as of the beginning of January, with no additional study time permitted.

How have unemployment benefit payments been eased?

  • An unemployment fund or Kela may pay part of an unemployment benefit claim in advance for no longer than six months before finally deciding the benefit application, meaning that claimants will not have to wait an unreasonably long time for payment. Such benefit advances were previously payable for only two months. Unemployment benefit must nevertheless still be claimed for each individual period of joblessness.
  • No special adjustment period or associated income calculation will apply when computing adjusted unemployment benefit, meaning that the adjustment period and the benefit claim period will always be four consecutive calendar weeks or one month, even if this period includes days when the applicant is not eligible for benefit.
  • The adjustment will be based on the income declared by a self-employed claimant if changes in business income prevent the use of a final taxable income figure for this calculation.

These legal changes will remain in force until the end of June 2021.

How much can I earn without losing unemployment benefit?

The protected portion is the maximum that an unemployed claimant may earn without losing benefit. All earned income exceeding the protected portion then affects the unemployment benefit payable.

The protected portion is normally EUR 300 per calendar month (or EUR 279 over a four-week period). This ceiling has now been temporarily increased to EUR 500 per calendar month (or EUR 465 over four calendar weeks).

The increase in the protected portion also applies to regular claimants who were already receiving unemployment benefit, but it only affects benefits paid on claims related to the period between 1 June 2020 and 30 June 2021.

How have the terms of the mobility allowance changed?

A mobility allowance may be paid to a claimant who is eligible for unemployment benefit and accepts an offer of work at a location far from his or her home. It may also be paid when an employee moves from a similarly distant location due to work.

A mobility allowance may now be paid on a temporary basis to both full-time and part-time employees whose daily work-related journeys exceed two hours when the job begins. Under the normal rules, such eligible commuting should take at least three hours in full-time work and not less than two hours in part-time work. The change affects jobs beginning as of 12 June 2020 or thereafter, but will no longer apply if employment begins after 30 June 2021.

Applications for a mobility allowance should be filed at your unemployment fund or at Kela. Depending on the duration of employment, the allowance is payable for between 30 and 60 days when a job lasts for at least two months. It corresponds to the basic daily allowance and labour market support.

Can the employment promotion service be suspended due to the coronavirus epidemic?

No. As of 1 January, 2021 a jobseeker is no longer entitled to suspend the employment promotion service without losing unemployment benefit for a cause arising from the coronavirus epidemic.

Automated monitoring of employment plan implementation by the online service has also been re-introduced as of 1 Febryary, 2021, meaning that a jobseeker may lose entitlement to unemployment benefits due to failure to implement the employment plan.

Can freelancers and the self-employed get unemployment benefit?

A new law on the right of the self-employed to unemployment benefit took effect on 8 April, 2020, giving self-employed and freelance workers enhanced access to unemployment benefit until 30 June, 2021. These workers may seek labour market support from Kela without having to stop trading if they are unable to work full-time, or if their livelihood is reduced due to the coronavirus epidemic.

A self-employed worker who registered as a jobseeker by no later than 15 April, 2020 is eligible for labour market support as of 16 March, 2020, despite failing to register at this earlier date. Benefits will nevertheless be payable only as of the time when the other eligibility conditions have been satisfied.

For how long may a jobseeker receive a start-up grant on beginning full-time self-employment?

An unemployed or otherwise eligible applicant beginning full-time self-employment may normally receive a start-up grant from the TE Office for up to 12 months. This maximum period has now been temporarily extended to 18 months. The amendment seeks to ensure that self-employed claimants are able to launch and establish their businesses, despite the exceptional conditions caused by the coronavirus epidemic. The amendment will remain in force until 31 December 2021.

What to do if you become unemployed or laid off?

1. Register as a jobseeker on your very first day of unemployment or layoff.

  • You can do it at TE Office's E-Services (service only in Finnish and Swedish) if you are a citizen of Finland or an EU or EEA Member State.
  • If you are a citizen of other countries or do not have online banking codes, a mobile certificate or a smart ID card:
    • If you have been a customer previously, you can register via the telephone service: 0295 020 713.
    • Register by using an open online form without identification.
    • Visit the TE Office in person - you can find paper registration forms and instructions outside the office. Fill in the form and leave it in a mailbox outside the office or mail it later. If you can not fill in the form, contact TE Office by phone.

2. Follow all the instructions of TE Office carefully.

3. The unemployment benefit must be applied separately. Apply and ask about your right for the benefit from your unemployment fund or Kela.

Information from authorities

TE services – How to begin your job search?

TE services – TE services in the corona situation