Jobseekers allowed to study without losing their unemployment benefit
On 19 December 2018, the President of the Republic approved an amendment to the Unemployment Security Act, extending the possibilities of unemployed jobseekers to pursue studies without losing their eligibility for unemployment benefit. The goal is to improve access to employment and facilitate the setting up of new businesses.
The Unemployment Security Act is amended to allow unemployed jobseekers, aged 25 years or more, to pursue studies for up to six months without losing their unemployment benefit. A condition is that the studies improve the jobseeker’s professional skills or help them set up a new business.
“It is important to support skills development so that jobs and jobseekers in Finland meet better than at present,” says Minister of Employment Jari Lindström.
A key difference to the current situation is that the Employment and Economic Development Office will no longer first assess the jobseeker’s need for studies or the full or part-time nature of the studies. However, jobseekers are still required to notify the Office of any studies lasting up to six months.
“The purpose of the amendment is that unemployed jobseekers could start studies to improve their access to employment without fear of losing their unemployment benefit. I’m glad that the amendment also improves the chances of jobseekers to meet their obligations under the activation model,” Lindström says.
Jobseekers, who receive unemployment benefit, will still be obligated to apply for and accept full-time work and attend employment-promoting services offered to them. Studies will not be a valid reason to turn down an offered work or service.
The financial support to students will continue to be the primary means of income support for full-time students. This is especially true for younger persons, since the amendment will only apply to persons aged 25 years or more.
Changes to the activation model regarding studies
Unemployed jobseekers will be able to use studies to meet their activation requirement under the activation model and avoid a reduction in their unemployment benefit.
Unemployment benefit will not be lowered if an unemployed jobseeker studies for at least five days during the review period in the activation model, provided that the studies meet the criteria under the Unemployment Security Act.
Unemployed jobseekers will not lose their unemployment benefit due to studies if
- the jobseeker is at least 25 years old;
- the studies take at most six months to complete; and
- the studies improve the jobseeker’s professional skills or help them set up a new business.
- Unemployed jobseekers regardless of their age can meet the activation requirement with demonstrated part-time studies if the studies have lasted at least five days during the review period. The upper limit for studies under the activation model is six months.
- In case an unemployed jobseeker has not received unemployment benefit during his or her full-time studies and the studies have lasted at least five days, the review period in the activation model will be reset at the end of studies and the benefit amount will not be lowered.
- Part-time studies that meet the activation requirement in the activation model include, among others, courses organised by liberal adult education institutions, such as adult education centres.
The amendments will enter into force on 31 December 2018.
Juha Halttunen, Special Adviser to the Minister of Employment, tel. +358 50 574 0236
Timo Meling, Senior Specialist, Legal Affairs, Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment, tel. +358 29 50 49084
Activation model: Marjaana Maisonlahti, Senior Ministerial Adviser, Ministry of Social Affairs and Health, tel. +358 29 51 63288