The situation in the labour market and in the business sector has seen a dramatic turn for the worse following the coronavirus outbreak. This is no time paper-pushing. We must make decisions quickly. People are worried and distressed. It is likely that we will see significant lay-offs and redundancies. We are constantly monitoring the labour market situation.
Action must be taken immediately to address the situation at hand. Labour market organisations have presented their proposals, and based on that information, we have taken political decisions. This is most likely the first time that such significant labour market measures have been put into place this quickly in Finland.
The decisions we made are not easy but they are necessary. The changes introduced will make employee lay-offs as flexible and affordable as possible. Furthermore, the minimum time for co-operation negotiations in companies will be shortened, and lay-off of temporary workers will be permitted. To offset these measures, we will improve employees’ unemployment security by removing the waiting period and by shortening the time-at-work requirement.
It is this Government’s aim in all situations to safeguard the functioning of the labour market, to avoid the bankruptcies of viable companies, and to improve the position of wage and salary earners. These measures go hand in hand; one doesn’t exist without the other. Undoubtedly more measures will be needed. To this end, I have appointed a labour market working group with several representatives from social partners, ministries and other interest groups.
When we heard about the difficulties of sole entrepreneurs at the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment, I immediately decided to launch preparation of measures to secure their livelihoods. As part of this package, we will make unemployment benefits available to those entrepreneurs who normally would not be entitled to unemployment benefits but who are currently unable to make a living because of the coronavirus crisis.
The system is meant to be very flexible – only the entrepreneur’s notification is required. The type of entrepreneurial activity is irrelevant, which guarantees equal treatment of entrepreneurs in this emergency situation. We are still working on the details of the system which is why more detailed information on how to apply for the benefit is unfortunately not yet available. We will announce more specific details as soon as possible. All the proposed measures are meant to be temporary.
Tuula Haatainen, Minister of Employment