Job alternation leave

Job alternation leave offers many benefits to all the parties concerned. It helps the employee to cope at work. An unemployed jobseeker gets an opportunity to gain work experience in a fixed-term employment relationship. The employer, on the other hand, may introduce new skills into the work community.

An employee's job alternation leave is subject to an agreement between the employer and the employee. An unemployed jobseeker must be recruited to replace the employee taking job alternation leave, but his or her duties do not necessarily have to be the same as those of the employee on leave.

The employee can use the leave as he or she sees fit. 

  • The duration of the leave is at minimum 100 and at maximum 180 calendar days.
  • The employee taking alternation leave shall have a minimum of 20 years of employment history
  • The maximum age of the person beginning their alternation leave shall be three years before their old age pension can start at the earliest. The maximum age shall not apply to persons born before 1957.

The substitute recruited for the duration of the job alternation leave shall be a person who has been registered with the TE Office as an unemployed jobseeker. A person may be recruited as a substitute, if he/she

  • has been registered with the TE Office as an unemployed jobseeker for a minimum of 90 days during the 14 months preceding the substitution or
  • is under the age of 30 and has recently graduated with a vocational or higher education degree or
  • is under the age of 25 or over the age of 55 at the start of the job alternation leave.

Job alternation compensation and its determination

You may be eligible for job alternation compensation. Your entitlement to this compensation will continue even if the employment relationship of the employee substituting you ended before the job alternation leave.

The job alternation compensation amount will be

  • 70 per cent of the unemployment benefit you would receive if you became unemployed – child increases are not included when calculating the compensation
  • a taxable income.

Exceptionally, the unemployment benefit on which the alternation compensation is based is calculated on the basis of the earned income that you have been receiving for the 52 weeks preceding the leave.

If you have been a member of an unemployment fund for a minimum 26 weeks before your job alternation leave starts

  • the compensation will be based on your earnings-related allowance
  • the compensation will be paid by the unemployment fund.

In other cases, the compensation is based on the basic allowance and it will be paid by the Social Insurance Institution (Kela).

Working and receiving an income during job alternation leave

The purpose of the job alternation leave is to support you in coping at work and offer a job for a fixed term for an unemployed person, thus reducing unemployment. Doing some other work during the job alternation leave would thus be inconsistent with the purpose of the system. However, working during your free time is not prohibited.

Any wages and other earned income that you receive while on leave will be deducted from your job alternation compensation. In this case, the compensation will be based on the so-called adjusted daily allowance. If you work full time for more than two weeks, you will not be entitled to compensation for this period.

However, any remuneration earned before the job alternation leave started and paid during the leave that does not entitle you to leave will not affect the amount of your job alternation compensation. For example, the job alternation compensation is not affected by

  • holiday pay remitted during the job alternation leave
  • various commissions and bonuses.

Statutory benefits affecting unemployment security will also be deducted from the compensation, such as child care allowance. This is consistent with the principle of calculating the job alternation compensation on the basis of the unemployment allowance.

On the other hand, the job alternation compensation is not affected by

  • family pensions
  • housing allowance
  • child benefit
  • social assistance
  • informal care support.

Restrictions to your entitlement to compensation

You will not be entitled to job alternation compensation during a period when

  • you receive pay, annual holiday pay or other compensation or remuneration from your employer for which you receive corresponding amounts of leave – see the end of the list for details
  • you are doing your military or non-military service or voluntary military service for women
  • you are serving a custodial sentence in a penal institution
  • you are in full-time employment for more than two weeks with other than your own employer
  • you are engaged in full-time enterprising
  • you are receiving a benefit referred to in the unemployment security act, including a maternity, special maternity, paternity or parental allowance, special care allowance or a training subsidy – for details see the link on the right.

As pay referred to in the first point will not be regarded

  • training paid for by the employer, if the benefit is not deemed to be a taxable income for the employee
  • those fringe benefits that you keep receiving while on job alternation leave.

Applying for the compensation

The following shall be submitted to the TE Office responsible for the area in which the job of the employee taking leave is located:

  • an alternation leave agreement signed by both the employer and employee submitted well in advance of the start date of the job alternation leave.
  • reliable proof demonstrating that an unemployed jobseeker has been hired for the duration of the job alternation leave. This shall be submitted immediately following the beginning of the job alternation leave. Preferably, proof should be presented in the form of a copy of the employment contract or a letter of appointment.

When you intend to take leave, before starting your leave you must submit to the TE Office an account showing that the criteria for taking job alternation leave are met. These include having worked full time for the year preceding the leave, which you can for example prove by submitting a copy of your pay certificate.

Address your application for job alternation compensation to your unemployment fund or a Social Insurance Institution (Kela) office.

  • You can download an application form from the website of the Federation of Unemployment Funds or collect one from the TE Office.
  • Attach to your application a pay certificate that shows full pay periods for a minimum 52 weeks before the job alternation leave starts and a copy of your job alternation agreement.

Job alternation compensation can be applied for in arrears for up to three months.

The TE Office will issue a statement on the employment political requirements for paying the compensation to the unemployment fund or Kela. They will make a decision on the payment of the compensation and remit it. The compensation will be paid at least once a month in arrears.

Reporting duty

If you are receiving job alternation compensation and you work or engage in enterprising, or if there are other issues that affect your entitlement to the compensation, you must inform the party paying the compensation immediately. You will have to pay back any excess compensation.

The employer must immediately inform the TE Office of any essential changes in the employment relationship of the substitute employed to replace a person on job alternation leave. For example, this applies to a situation where the employment relationship ends earlier than the job alternation leave.