Interviews in progress with unemployed job seekers
The turn of the year saw the introduction of several legislative amendments concerning unemployed job seekers. Brand new measures include periodic interviews and recruitment trials.
Local TE employment offices started to interview unemployed job seekers in January. The purpose and implementation of these so-called periodic interviews were topics of public debate last autumn. The purpose is to help job seekers to integrate into the labour market and to fill vacancies as quickly as possible.
The Pirkanmaa TE Office is one of the offices that has started implementation. Service Director Tarja Paulaniemi explains that there are plenty of interviews to conduct and these are being carried out with all the resources available, both face-to-face and over the phone or through a video link.
- Full implementation of periodic interviews involves challenges, she says.
The first interview will be conducted within two weeks after registration as a job seeker, if the TE office estimates that it may be difficult for the individual to find employment. In other cases, interviews will start after a three-month period of unemployment at the latest and will continue every three months thereafter.
Another new amendment that entered into force at the turn of the year introduced recruitment trials for unemployed people into the Act on Public Employment and Business Service. Recruitment trials make it possible for job seekers to try out a job for a maximum period of one month, if they so wish. Instead of pay, they will receive unemployment benefits during these voluntary trials. There is no minimum duration and participants are free to quit the trial without any sanctions.
Trials are intended for situations where companies actually have some work to offer. In other words, if a trial does not lead to employment, the employer is required to report to the local TE office to explain why the job seeker was not hired. The Pirkanmaa TE Office does not as yet have any experience of recruitment trials. The legislative amendment concerning recruitment trials will be valid up until the end of 2018.
A third reform concerns mobility allowance, which aims to encourage job seekers to accept work available far from home. Mobility allowance replaced the travel allowance that used to be covered by the Social Insurance Institution of Finland (Kela) and it will be paid out by the job seeker’s unemployment fund instead. The unemployment fund will also determine who will be eligible to receive the allowance.
You can receive mobility allowance if you are unemployed and accept a full-time job with a total (return journey) commute of over 3 hours or a part-time job with a total commute of over 2 hours. The duration of employment must be at least 2 months and the allowance will be payable for a maximum period of 60 days. You must apply for the allowance prior to the beginning of your employment. The allowance is a taxable benefit equal to the basic unemployment allowance.
Other key amendments to unemployment security legislation concern the earnings-related unemployment allowance. Firstly, the waiting period was extended from 5 to 7 days. This means that you will only start receiving earnings-related daily allowance at the end of this waiting period.
The maximum period for receiving earnings-related unemployment allowance has been reduced from 500 to 400 days. If you have not worked for over 3 years, the maximum period will be 300 days. However, if you have met the qualifying period after turning 58 and have worked for 5 years over the last 20 years, the maximum benefit period will remain at 500 days.
The amount of increased earnings-related allowance has been reduced. The increased component will no longer be payable on the basis of a long career that has lasted for at least 20 years. The increased component payable for the duration of employment-promotion services has been reduced from 58% to 55%.
For further information on these changes in Finnish, you can search the PAM wiki at pam.fi/wiki using the search term ‘työttömyysturvalain muutoksia 2017’.