Parliament has approved the Government’s proposals to extend the duration of the temporary amendments concerning lay-offs, co-operation procedures and the right of laid-off employees and entrepreneurs to unemployment security until the end of 2020. The President of the Republic is to approve the amendments on 26 June 2020, and they would largely enter into force on 11 July 2020.
The amendments are part of the Government’s response to the coronavirus pandemic. They are based on a proposition by the labour market confederations to extend the validity of the temporary amendments to labour legislation and unemployment security legislation.
The amendments made to the Employment Contracts Act, the Seafarers’ Employment Contracts Act and the Act on Co-operation within Undertakings since 1 April 2020 will remain in force until the end of 2020. The amendments aim to help businesses adjust to changes in demand for labour caused by the coronavirus epidemic.
As per the temporary amendments, the period of notice before lay-off and the duration of co-operation negotiations regarding lay-offs have been shortened to five days. In addition, it has become possible for employers to lay off a fixed-term employee and to terminate an employee’s contract during the trial period on financial or production-related grounds. On the other hand, the period during which the employer is obligated to re-employ an employee dismissed for financial or production-related reasons has been temporarily extended to nine months. The temporary amendments apply to the private sector.
As of 1 April 2020, employees who have been laid off have been entitled to unemployment benefit even if they are engaged in, for example, business activities or studies. The amendment to the Unemployment Security Act has aimed to secure the livelihoods of laid-off employees and to streamline the processing of unemployment security matters in TE Offices during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Meanwhile, entrepreneurs have since 8 April 2020 been temporarily entitled to labour market support to deal with the sudden and unforeseen decline in demand due to the coronavirus epidemic. The aim has been to ensure the livelihood of entrepreneurs.
The temporary amendments to the Unemployment Security Act concerning the right of laid-off employees to unemployment benefit and the right of entrepreneurs to labour market support would remain in force until 31 December 2020.
As of the start of May, TE Offices have been able to organise periodic interviews with jobseekers more flexibly than usual. Interviews have only been arranged at the start of the job search with jobseekers with a special need for an interview. The aim has been to free resources at TE Offices for the processing of unemployment security matters of those who register as unemployed jobseekers. This flexibility would continue until 31 December 2020, but the number of interviews would increase in accordance with the service needs of the jobseekers.
Additionally, the duration of support to jobseekers who claim unemployment benefit for independent study may be extended under certain conditions, if the studies have been delayed due to the coronavirus pandemic.