Government continues to negotiate over cuts to job alternation leave compensation
The government is hurriedly shifting into reverse with regard to its declared intention to lower the compensation paid to a person taking a job alternation leave.
Labour market organisations and representatives of various ministries will convene to discuss the job alternation leave terms on Thursday.
Janne Metsämäki, Secretary of State to Minister of Labour Lauri Ihalainen (SDP) convened an emergency meeting on Friday after news that the job alternation leave compensations were to be reduced had leaked to the public, causing ruffled feathers among labour-market organisations and several trade unions.
On Friday Helsingin Sanomat reported that under the proposed changes the paid job alternation leave compensations would go down by 10 to 20 per cent from the beginning of 2012. A sabbatical year taken off work under the job alternation leave system would thus cost hundreds of euros more than before.
The government reckons the change would lead to annual savings of around EUR 7.5 million. The idea caused the trade unions to fly into a rage.
“The proposal that the compensations be cut is utterly incomprehensible. In the social incomes policy general settlement we decided on the maintenance of the job alternation leave system as it is. The new suggestion would trash all the previously agreed matters”, says Chairman Antti Rinne of the Trade Union Pro.
The lowering of the paid compensations is also a bone of contention for example among the Union of Health and Social Care Professionals (Tehy), the Finnish Union of Practical Nurses (SuPer), the Trade Union of Education in Finland (OAJ), and the Finnish Association of Business School Graduates (SEFE).
In the unions’ view the job alternation leave system is an efficient way to lengthen people’s working careers, an aim that has been generally welcomed and advocated.
According to the trade unions the hasty preparation of the law and the lowering of the paid compensations came “out of thin air”.
Ihalainen, who worked on the social incomes policy general settlement when he was the chairman of the Central Organisation of Finnish Trade Unions (SAK), said in a Friday morning television interview with the Finnish Broadcasting Company (YLE) that the labour organisations had been aware of the issue since the drawing up of the government programme.
According to the organisations, however, the preparation of the new legislation has been a complete surprise until very recently. Ihalainen refrained from commenting on the matter to Helsingin Sanomat.
Previously in HS International Edition:
Sabbaticals to become more expensive (2.9.2011)
Ministry of Employment & the Economy: Job alternation leave and study leave