Our campaign for a legislative amendment has gotten a great reception!
We have been campaigning for an amendment to the Unemployment Funds Act in the run-up to the parliamentary elections. We would like unemployment funds to have more opportunities to help our members find employment. Our Pitäisiköhän lakia muuttaa? (Think the law needs changing?) campaign has gotten visibility on the media and high street all over Finland.
We could not be happier with how well our campaign has been received and the numerous comments we got from you! A survey on our campaign website garnered nearly 3,000 opinions on whether unemployment funds should be given the opportunity to help their members find employment. Nearly 90% of those who took the survey support the legislative amendment. Only 7.5% said no and 3% were not sure.
“Funds should absolutely have the right to promote the employment of job seekers.”
“What an absurd law!”
“With things as they are, we need to do everything we can to help people find employment.”
“Anything that helps people find employment easier and faster is good for society.”
“That would be a tremendously good idea!”
“Unemployment funds should definitely have the right to announce vacancies and training opportunities. A one-stop-shop. Good idea.”
People are questioning the basis of the current Act
We have received some questions about what the current law is based on and why it prohibits unemployment funds from helping their members find employment.
The government proposal from 1984 states: “Unemployment funds generally operate in connection with trade unions, albeit as independent entities. In order to preserve the independence of the funds, it is proposed that a fund may not engage in activities other than those referred to in the Unemployment Security Act, nor may it have connections to an association, organisation or other conglomeration engaged in other types of activities that would limit the fund's independence. This provision is equivalent to established practice and the corresponding provision in the current Act.”
The Act in force is old, and the world has changed. Today, many unemployment funds are more independent than ever, and Finland's largest fund, YTK Työttömyyskassa, is a completely independent entity. In addition, the structure of unemployment and the measures for addressing it have changed significantly in four decades. Now is the time to look at how the Act approaches the promotion of employment.
Aiming for a voluntary model and lower membership fees
“It should not be mandatory or add any new obligations”, said one respondent.
We agree. The model we are proposing would be entirely voluntary: unemployment funds would have no obligation to help their members find employment, and members would not be obliged to accept any help. Therefore, the model would not introduce new responsibilities for the unemployed. It would also have no effect on the daily allowance.
The idea is that employment support would pay for itself through savings in benefit expenditure. By shortening periods of unemployment, the service would reduce the unemployment fund's benefit expenditure. This would also allow us to reduce our membership fee even further.
We are not stepping on the toes of public employment services
We already have a public employment service in Finland. Why would we need funds to promote employment, asked some of the respondents.
Unemployment funds have direct contact with their members and a lot of data that could be used for things like the targeted communication of vacancies. In other words, the fund itself would not provide any employment services.
In Denmark, for example, unemployment funds play a strong role in helping their members find employment, even though there is also a public employment service in the country. Denmark has a much lower unemployment rate than Finland, so the model clearly works. We believe that Finland, too, should use every means available to promote employment and save money for all of us.