Fixed-term jobs often bring money difficulties
taking temporary employment can lead to long delays in earnings-linked unemployment benefits
When the UPM plywood mill in Heinola was closed down in the spring of 2010, Anja Keskinen, 49, and Päivi Lemettinen, 40, lost their jobs.
Keskinen took part in retraining and started pursuing temporary employment, which she found at health centres in Joutsa and Heinola, as well as in the Heinola City Hospital, and in dental care.
Lemettinen attended retraining in the commercial sector and found work as a substitute at Itella, the former Finland Post. Her work consists of sorting and distributing mail.
However, Lemettinen has also found only temporary jobs. Sometimes she works for one or two weeks, sometimes even for a month. In the meantime, she has to get into her old role as an unemployed job-seeker.
Keskinen’s temporary jobs have varied from three days to a month. She has also been without work on occasions, but mostly she has been employed.
For temporary work that lasts less than two weeks, a job seeker is paid adjusted earnings-related allowance, and it can take a long time before it is deposited in the job seeker’s bank account.
”One may have to wait for the appearance of the unemployment allowances in the bank account for as many as two months. Who can cope with it financially”, Keskinen asks.
”With temporary work I cannot pay my bills in time”, Lemettinen adds. But, if a job seeker turns down a temporary job, it will lead to a waiting period.
When they are unemployed, Keskinen and Lemettinen spend their days mostly by dealing with the employment bureaucracy.
After each temporary job, a job seeker has to contact the employment office as soon as possible and to register as an unemployed job seeker.
For each two-week temporary job, the job seeker has to get an employment certificate from the employer, which is to be carried to the employment office. A salary certificate and the contracts of employment have to be sent to the relevant labour union.
In her weak moments, Keskinen contemplates, whether the ones who just lie on their sofas enjoying their earnings-related unemployment allowances for 500 days in peace and quiet might not be the smart ones; they don’t have to deal with as much bureaucracy, constant visits to the employment office, or irregular income.
”But to only get the basic unemployment allowance from KELA, it is a gloomy outlook”, she says, pulling herself together.
The Social Insurance Institution of Finland (KELA) pays the basic unemployment allowance for a maximum of 500 days or the labour market subsidy for those who have exhausted their 500-day eligibility for the basic or earnings-related unemployment allowance. The labour market subsidy can be paid for an indefinite period.
Lemettinen says that nevertheless, she is one of those for whom losing her job was a stroke of luck - at least to some extent.
”I had an opportunity to get the kind of training that I had been dreaming about. My life changed, a regular schedule replaced shiftwork, and now I can enjoy the joy of living. The factory was a bleak place compared with the post office”, Lemettinen notes.
Keskinen is working as a substitute at the Heinola health centre.
She hopes to have permanent employment in order to say goodbye to red tape.
At the same time, the government is considering ways to streamline the bureaucracy relating to the unemployment benefits, says Minister of Social Affairs and Health Paula Risikkko (National Coalition Party).
The Social Insurance Institution of Finland (KELA): Unemployment