PAM’s Rönni-Sällinen: Part-time employees may be in a worse position in unemployment
According to Service Union United PAM, the proposed amendments to the Unemployment Security Act should treat everyone equally. At the moment, part-time employees who are not temporarily laid off are in a difficult position. Their maximum period of payment for the earnings-related unemployment allowance is running out at the same time as they will likely face dramatic cuts to their working hours and salaries.
According to Annika Rönni-Sällinen, president of Service Union United PAM, it is unfortunate that the exceptional changes to unemployment security have not sufficiently considered the harm the pandemic is causing to part-time employees.
According to the exceptional amendments to unemployment security legislation, earnings-related benefits will be paid during the waiting period, and the maximum period of payment for the earnings-related allowance will be suspended for employees who are temporarily laid off.
“In the long run, this will lead to some employees being excluded from earnings-related benefits as their maximum period of payment runs out. It seems like part-time employees who are already outside the protections of permanent full-time employment will be in deeper trouble with these legal intricacies surrounding unemployment benefits,” says Rönni-Sällinen.
“Most of the proposed changes are positive, but they do not apply to everyone. Employees who are not laid off, but whose working hours are cut instead, will be fighting for their livelihoods while a separate set of unemployment rules apply to laid off employees. This situation is unprecedented, and we must take care of everyone,” Rönni-Sällinen states.
The service industry employs many part-time workers, who have previously been working more hours than the minimum number specified in their contract. Because of the corona pandemic, they have now only received the minimum number of hours, and employees with no minimum hours in their contract have not been working at all.
“In the worst case, an employee who has previously been working 35 hours per week will see their hours drop dramatically, even to less than 18 hours per week. This means that the employee would have to apply for adjusted unemployment benefit. The days of adjusted benefits will be deducted from the maximum period of payment for earnings-related allowance, while the few hours available are not enough to fulfil the work requirement,” explains Rönni-Sällinen.
In addition, Rönni-Sällinen considers it unfair that the exceptional legislation ignores the employees who have been receiving adjusted earnings-related benefits even before the pandemic. If their working hours are not sufficient to fulfil the work requirement, they will be using up their maximum period of payment for earnings-related allowance, even though this process has been halted laid off employees.
Rönni-Sällinen hopes that the Government of Finland will fix the problems in the proposed legislation quickly.
“In the current situation, I would almost ask employers to lay off their employees outright instead of cutting their hours. Being temporarily laid off would be a better option for the employees, who could still rely on a livelihood. The situation is very unfortunate, because working, even a little, should always be encouraged – particularly in these exceptional times,” she concludes.