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To employees working in Finland: FAQ by the Ministry of Social Affairs

23.03.2020


Questions submitted to the Ministry of Social Affairs and their answers.

The questions are answered by Ulla Saar, Head of Work and Pension Policy Department of the Ministry of Social Affairs, except for one question answered by Agne Nettan-Sepp

I have a few questions about Finland’s decision to prohibit commuting – it seemed like the issued had been solved 24 hours earlier, but then, we suddenly got different news.

As we know, thousands if not tens of thousands of Estonians work in Finland.

In your estimation, how many Estonians will be left without work due to this?

According to a labour force survey by Statistics Estonia, in 2019, we had about 15,400 commuters (place of residence in Estonia, place of work in a foreign country). Most of them worked in Finland. How many people will be out of work due to the borders being closed depends on how many of them prefer to stay in Finland and how many return to Estonia. Employment also depends on how quickly it is possible to find a new job.

Do they qualify for the salary compensation promised by Estonia?

To qualify for the Unemployment Insurance Fund’s measure and to receive compensation in the extent of 70% of the salary, an employee must work for an employer registered in Estonia under Estonian labour laws.

Where should they turn to – does the Unemployment Insurance Fund handle citizens who have become unemployed in a foreign country?

Answered by Agne Nettan-Sepp, Deputy Head of the European Union Affairs and International Co-operation Department in the Field of Crossborder Social Security.

As a rule, unemployment benefits must be applied for in the country where the person was last employed. Exceptions have been made for those whose actual place of residence is not the country they work at, namely for border area and crossborder workers. A cross-border worker is a person who works every day in another member state, e.g. Finland, and returns home less than once a week. Crossborder employees may be, for example, medical workers or construction workers. Under the rules of the European Union, their place of residence is considered to be Estonia if their central interest, e.g. their family, is primarily here. However, a border-area worker is, for example, a person who lives in Valga but goes to work in Valka every day (they must turn to the institution of their country of residence, in this case the Estonian Unemployment Insurance Fund).

In registering as unemployed and applying for unemployment benefits, cross-border workers have been given a choice whether to do it in their last country of employment or their country of residence. Therefore, in the example above, the person can choose whether they register as unemployed in Estonia or Finland. If the person applies for benefits in Finland, it is possible that KELA will pay the benefit across the border to Estonia (in that case, one should inquire about medical insurance also from there).

If you are submitting an application in Estonia, you can find more information about how benefits are calculate and other such topics on the website of the Unemployment Insurance Fund: https://www.tootukassa.ee/content/euroopa-liit-ja-tootuskindlustus#

In Estonia, medical insurance is provided to the unemployed.

In your estimation: how extensive is the social issue arising for Estonia here, considering that many of those working in Finland are from rural areas?

It is difficult to estimate at the moment, as we do not know how long working is hindered due to the state of emergency. However, possibilities have been created for temporary employment and for that the Unemployment Insurance Fund has created an employment portal: https://www.onlineexpo.com/ee/ajutised-tookohad/

Also, there was the solution created during the crisis hackathon: https://shareforceone.ee/ 

What do you recommend: should the employees rather stay in Finland than come back and risk unemployment, even though it would probably mean being apart from their families for months, etc.?

Every employee must evaluate this risk themselves.

 

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