A previous similar suspension of the maximum payment period due to the coronavirus epidemic only applied to laid-off (furloughed) claimants. Now any unemployment benefit paid for days between 1 July and 31 December 2020 will not count towards the maximum benefit payment period, irrespective of when the claimant began receiving benefit or the basis for such payment.
Unemployment benefits are normally paid for 300, 400 or 500 days, depending on the circumstances. Jobseekers must claim labour market support from Kela if their unemployment continues for longer than the maximum benefit period.
Other temporary changes to the unemployment benefit system have now similarly been extended until the end of 2020. The changes were originally intended to remain in force until early or late July, subject to some variation. The extension applies to the following statutory amendments:
- elimination of the 5-day waiting period when a claim for unemployment benefit begins
- shortening of the employment condition for unemployment benefit eligibility from 26 weeks to 13 weeks or 3 months (with a requirement of the same period of unemployment fund membership to be eligible for earnings-related daily allowance)
- shortening of the employment condition of a family member of a self-employed person from one year to six months.
- right of a laid-off (furloughed) employee to unemployment benefit, even when operating a business or studying during the layoff
- right of a jobseeker to unemployment benefit, even while not implementing a plan of employment or while interrupting the employment-promoting service for justified cause due to the coronavirus epidemic
- access to labour market support for self-employed and freelance workers when their full-time employment ends or their livelihoods are compromised due to the coronavirus epidemic
One new form of relief is a temporary legal amendment in force as of the beginning of July, allowing an exemption from the requirement of progress in voluntary studies supported by unemployment benefit, with an extension of the maximum support period of 24 or 48 months until no later than the end of 2020 if studies are delayed due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Amended statutes governing layoff, other terms and conditions of employment and services for the unemployed also remain in force
Certain temporary legal amendments concerning the notice and minimum negotiating periods for layoffs, the trial period and the employer’s duty to re-engage a redundant employee took effect at the beginning of April. These amendments have been prolonged from the end of June until the end of 2020.
The temporary amendments include cutting the notice period and minimum negotiation period for layoffs to five days, allowing employers to terminate employment on collective grounds during a trial period, and prolonging the employer’s duty to re-engage a redundant employee to nine months.
Measures facilitating registration as an unemployed jobseeker have also been extended until the end of 2020. Jobseeker registration neither lapses nor expires if an applicant fails to respond to the service needs assessment or to prepare a draft employment plan through the Employment and Economic Development Office online portal. These offices will also continue to enjoy enhanced flexibility in arranging periodic jobseeker interviews.
The extension of the maximum duration of the start-up grant from 12 to 18 months will remain in force pursuant to new decisions until the end of 2021.
The change in the maximum grant period could accordingly apply to studies in which the maximum period would expire before the end of 2020.
Check out our information package for further questions and answers concerning the impact of the coronavirus epidemic on workers’ rights, terms and conditions of employment, and daily life at workplaces.