JHL (19.04.2018 - Heikki Jokinen) The recent changes in unemployment security cut benefits but do not help in finding a job, says Teija Asara-Laaksonen, the Chief Executive Officer of JHL.
From the beginning of this year unemployed job seekers are seeing their benefits cut by 4.65 per cent in each three month period unless they succeed in finding employment temporarily, receive some entrepreneurial income or participate in training offered by the employment offices.
The Finnish Government pushed the cuts through claiming they will activate job seekers and improve employment prospects. The trade union movement vehemently opposed the proposed measures, arguing that in real terms all this amounted to was simply a cut in benefits which does little to help in finding a new job.
Now JHL, the Trade Union for the Public and Welfare Sectors can show some figures to assess what has actually happened as a result.
Out of the 16,106 unemployed JHL members only 6,480 succeeded in fulfilling the new demands to receive their unemployment benefit uncut. This means that some 60 per cent of unemployed JHL members has had a cut in their benefits.
The new rules did not made it easier for unemployed job-seeking JHL members to find a job either. “In comparison with last year the new stipulations did not raise working activity at all”, Asara-Laaksonen says.
One easy way to raise the employment rate would be a reform of the job alternation leave, Asara-Laaksonen believes.
The Government dramatically tightened the rules on this some years ago. The level of compensation is now lower, the duration of the leave shorter and the rules on hiring a substitute are stricter.
These changes proved to be a hard blow against what had been a very popular measure to alleviate unemployment. A few years ago some 3,000 JHL members annually took job alternation leave, in February 2018 the figure was under 300.
“These temporary assignments were an excellent way for the unemployed to get valuable working experience.”
Even according to the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment report from 2014 job alternation leave was one of the most effective employment policy measures, Asara-Laaksonen adds.