Unemployment benefit in the coronavirus situation

Kela pays unemployment benefits

  • to persons who are not eligible for earnings-related unemployment allowance from an unemployment fund
  • to self-employed persons whose full-time self-employment has ended because of the coronavirus epidemic.

Due to the coronavirus epidemic, temporary changes have been made to the unemployment coverage relaxing the eligibility requirements and improving the level of benefits. Kela automatically applies these new requirements to your application. Some of the temporary changes apply to the TE Services and the job search. Please follow the instructions from the TE Services concerning these changes.

Temporary changes in legislation extended until 30 November 2021

The temporary changes made to the unemployment benefit legislation will be extended until 30 November 2021. They have been approved by Parliament and are awaiting confirmation by the President.

For more detailed information, see the section ‘Changes to the unemployment benefit coverage for employees and self-employed persons’.

 

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Changes in unemployment coverage for employees and self-employed persons

Temporary changes introduced:

  • The earnings are adjusted with the unemployment benefit in periods of four weeks or one month even when the period includes days for which the applicant is not entitled to unemployment benefits. Wages paid during the period are thus taken into account in the adjustment even if there is no entitlement to unemployment benefits for the day the wages are paid. To compensate for this, any wages paid during the adjustment period are not recalculated to correspond to a monthly wage; instead they are taken into account as such. The change will be in force from 11 May 2020 to 30 November 2021.
  • The exempt amount applicable to unemployment benefits has been raised temporarily. The exempt amount is the amount a recipient of unemployment benefits can earn without it reducing their benefits. If the benefit is paid every four weeks, you can earn a gross amount, i.e. amount before taxes, of EUR 465. If the benefit is paid on a monthly basis, you can earn EUR 500. The increase applies to benefit adjustment periods beginning between 1 June 2020 and 30 November 2021.
  • A commuting and relocation allowance is available if you accept a full-time job which requires you to travel more than two hours each day to get to and from work, or if you move a comparable distance to be closer to your place of work. These terms apply to periods of employment beginning between 12 June 2020 and 30 Novermber 2021. Normally, the daily trip to and from work must take more than three hours.
  • If you are laid off temporarily and the lay-off started on or after 16 March 2020, you can receive an unemployment benefit even if you are studying. This is a temporary change that will be effective until 31 December 2021.

Self-employed persons

  • Kela can pay self-employed persons labour market subsidy, if their full-time employment in their business has ended, or if their income from self-employment, because of the epidemic, is less than EUR 1,089.67 per month. These changes will be effective until 30 September 2021.
  • Normally, the tax information for the previous year is used when adjusting the income from self-employment. If a self-employed person’s income has changed due to the coronavirus outbreak, he or she can temporarily himself/herself report the current income to Kela. Kela adjusts this income with the benefit. The change will be in effect from 11 May 2020 to 30 November 2021.
  • The exempt amount applicable to unemployment benefits has been raised temporarily. The exempt amount is the amount that a recipient of unemployment benefits can earn without it affecting their benefits. If the benefit is paid every four weeks, you can earn a gross amount, i.e. amount before taxes, of EUR 465. If the benefit is paid on a monthly basis, you can earn EUR 500. The increase applies to benefit adjustment periods beginning between 1 June 2020 and 30 November 2021.

Changes that have ended in 2020

Some of the temporary legislative changes have no longer been effective after the end of 2020. If you apply for an unemployment benefit retroactively, Kela can apply the legal provisions whose validity has ended to your case. Applications for unemployment benefits can be backdated for up to 3 months.

Starting 1 January 2021, applications for unemployment benefits are processed in the following manner:

  • Unemployment benefits are payable after a waiting period of 5 days. If the payment of the unemployment benefit starts 31 December 2020 at the latest, unemployment benefit can be paid for the waiting period.
  • The maximum payment period for unemployment allowances will be applied, meaning that basic unemployment allowance can be paid for a maximum of 300 or 400 days depending on the length of your employment history. Days of unemployment allowance have not been taken into account in the maximum payment period for unemployment allowances between 16 March and 31 December 2020 for persons who are temporarily laid off and between 1 July and 31 December 2020 for persons who are fully unemployed.  
  • The work requirement for the unemployment allowance will again be 26 weeks. An applicant for unemployment benefits can be granted basic unemployment allowance from Kela, if the applicant has worked at least 26 weeks during the preceding 28 months and the other entitlement criteria are also met. The short work requirement of 13 weeks is applied if the payment of the basic unemployment allowance has started on 31 December 2020 at the latest.
  • The TE Services investigates whether the self-employment activity of a temporarily laid off person is to be considered work on a full-time or a part-time basis.
  • Unemployed jobseekers must make an employment plan with the TE Services. If no plan is made, you can lose your unemployment benefit.

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