Know your rights

About Unemployment Benefits
The Unemployment system in Finland is a topic we get often asked about here at the trade union. These matters are of course important to be aware of.

The right to unemployment benefits is dependent on several things. As a non-Finnish citizen living in Finland, there are several factors to consider.

First of all, usually the right is the same to all EU and ETA citizens within EU. The eligibility for those coming from outside EU is a bit more complicated a matter, however. Basically the eligibility to unemployment benefits is linked to the right to seek work in Finland. That is linked to the visa the employee is currently holding; does the employee have the right to reside in Finland without a valid employment contract and thus seek work. It is advisable to check one’s status to know what the rights are if you are interested in staying in Finland after your employment contract ends. As an EU citizen things are usually rather simple.

The principal idea is that an employee that is currently unemployed and seeking a full time (sometimes also part time work) is registered as a job seeker at the unemployment office (TE-toimisto) and is entitled to unemployment benefits during their time of unemployment. During this time they must activly search for work and also paricipate in some mandatory activities, for example courses provided by TE-toimisto, which hopefully help them get employed. A job seeker is not allowed for example to work on their thesis or other scientific work, which is considered self-employment (even if it does not pay anything).

The unemployment benefits fall into three different categories. The first, basic, level requires no previous work history and is the lowest form of allowance, the amount being the same to all (työmarkkinatuki). The second level requires 26 calendar weeks of previous work history and the amount is same to all (työttömyyspäiväraha). The first two allowancies are paid out by KELA (Finnish social insurance company). The third level is the earnings- based allowance. This requires also 26 weeks of previous working history plus a membership at a trade union/unemployment fund simultaniously during these 26 weeks of work. The allowance is paid out by the unemployment fund the employee is a member of and is based on the employee’s previously earned salary. Grants and scholars are not considered salary. They do not also count as previous work history.

When one becomes unemployed, one must register as an unemployed job seeker at the TE-toimisto and then their eligibility to receive unemployment benefits will be considered and decided. Registering may be done online. TE-toimisto will then send either KELA or the unemployment fund their decision whether the job seeker is eligible for the unemployment benefits or not. If the decision is negative, it may be appealed and this is something the trade unions may help their members with. If the decision is positive, the job seeker can fill out their application for the allowance (online) and either KELA or the unemployment fund will then pay it out.

Please visit and for more information.

text mia Weckman
lawyer, the Finnish union of university researchers and teachers

Painetussa lehdessä sivu 40