Changes in the benefit rights of persons arriving in Finland for work or leaving Finland from 1 April 2019

What are the changes and will they apply to me?

A new law will bring changes to the rights of persons arriving in Finland for work or leaving Finland for another country to qualify for Kela benefits starting 1 April 2019.

The law will have an impact on several residence-based benefits, such as national health insurance, child benefits, general housing allowances and pensions paid by Kela, along with some other benefits.

The new law abolishes the so-called four-month rule which has applied to employees arriving in Finland. Under the four-month rule, employees must work in Finland for at least four months in order to gain coverage under the Finnish social security system. After 1 April 2019, incoming foreign workers will qualify for Kela benefits if they earn at least EUR 696.60 per month (as of 2019), regardless of the duration of their employment or the number of hours they work per week.

The new law also has consequences for the status of students arriving in Finland. Students will have a limited to right to certain residence-based benefits and will for instance become eligible for national health insurance benefits. This requires that they are considered to move to Finland permanently.

Under the new law, the time limit on temporary residence outside Finland is reduced from one year to six months. This means that persons residing abroad temporarily are entitled to Kela benefits only if the expected duration of their residence abroad is six months or less.

Employees posted outside the EU will remain eligible for benefits for up to five years. This five-year limit also applies to such groups as researchers and development aid workers. Students attending a full-time educational programme abroad will remain eligible for benefits for the duration of their studies.

Under the new law, Kela will no longer automatically issue a decision on social security coverage to persons who are arriving in or leaving Finland. For persons living or working in Finland or residing abroad, the right to benefits is determined when deciding on the continued payment of an existing benefit or the award of a new benefit.

When will the new law take effect and what am I required to do?

During a transitional period, benefit decisions issued to persons belonging to these groups and residing abroad since before 1 April will remain in effect.

Even a short period of residence outside Finland can have consequences for eligibility for Kela benefits. Benefit recipients leaving Finland should tell Kela in advance about the length and purpose of their stay abroad to allow Kela to investigate how the move will affect their benefits.

Persons returning to Finland who were not entitled to Kela benefits while abroad can re-qualify for residence-based benefits if they move to Finland permanently and notify Kela.

Applications for coverage under the social security system when moving to Finland or staying abroad that have been submitted to Kela before the change in legislation can only be determined starting 1 April 2019 if the move abroad or to Finland occurs 1 April 2019 or later. Under the new legislation, Kela will not issue any written decision on coverage under the social security system.

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