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Temporary changes to unemployment security are coming to an end

Several temporary changes were made to the Unemployment Security Act due to the coronavirus pandemic. Some of these amendments have already been rescinded, and the concessions regarding the exempt amount, the mobility allowance and self-employed persons’ adjusted allowances are due to expire at the end of November.

Exempt amount

Before the enactment of the temporary legislative amendments, the exempt amount was EUR 300 per month. This is the amount that an unemployed person can earn without its affecting their earnings-related daily allowance. During the coronavirus pandemic, the exempt amount was temporarily raised to EUR 500 per month. This concession is due to expire on 30 November 2021.

We intend to deal with the transition by applying the exempt amount of EUR 500 to any application periods that begin no later than on 30 November 2021. This means that the higher exempt amount still applies in December as long as the start of the application period was in November. The lower exempt amount of EUR 300 applies to all application periods that begin in December.

Work performed in November can already be subject to the lower exempt amount of EUR 300. Earnings-related daily allowances are always applied for retrospectively, and wages are primarily taken into account in the adjustment process according to the payment date. This means that if, for example, you apply for a daily allowance for December in January, your application will be processed taking into account what you were paid in December. If you earned the wages in November but were not paid until December, your pay for work performed in November may be subject to the exempt amount of EUR 300 when we come to adjust your allowance for December.

Mobility allowance

Under the temporary law, a mobility allowance could be paid to an unemployed person who starts a new full-time job based on a commute of more than two hours. This concession is being phased out so that the temporary rule applies to any new jobs started no later than on 30 November 2021.

Thereafter, the commute requirement for the mobility allowance reverts to three hours in the case of full-time work. In other words, the commute requirement is three hours for any jobs started on or after 1 December 2021.

Self-employed persons’ adjusted allowances

One of the temporary concessions has allowed us to adjust self-employed persons’ allowances based on the income declared by applicants themselves. We therefore have not had to go back later to check whether the figures reported by applicants were accurate. This concession, too, is coming to an end and now only applies to application periods starting no later than on 30 November 2021.

We intend to deal with the transition by still trusting applicants’ self-declarations in respect of any application periods that begin no later than on 30 November 2021. This means that the concession still applies in December as long as the start of the application period was in November. The standard rule, whereby we generally check self-employed persons’ income from their latest confirmed personal tax assessment, applies to all application periods that begin in December.

Self-employed persons’ access to labour market subsidies

Another concession was to relax the requirements that self-employed persons need to satisfy to qualify for labour market subsidies. This temporary rule change is also being rescinded on 30 November 2021.

A few concessions remain

A proposal has been made to extend the concessions relating to advance payments and special adjustment periods until 31 December 2022.

The concession relating to advance payments allows us to pay earnings-related daily allowances even before we issue a decision on the application. This concession has had little impact in practice, and applicants have not found it particularly useful.

The concession relating to special adjustment periods affects the way in which we take earnings from part-time work into account in the adjustment process. Processing daily allowance applications for periods during which the applicant has worked part-time is more straightforward when we do not have to base our calculations on a special adjustment period. The downside to extending this concession is that it is not fully compatible with the rules that apply to part-time lay-offs.

Another change that was introduced due to the pandemic was to waive the rule that the Employment and Economic Development Office (TE Office) must determine whether an applicant who has been laid off is studying full-time or part-time. This concession is now due to be end on 31 December 2021.