A New Year and some new laws and regulations

2014 brings with it some changes in regard to unemployment benefits, parental leave and developing employees’ professional skills.

When signing the national wage agreement in October last year trade unions, employers and the government agreed on some changes to unemployment benefits. These are now in effect.

As of this year it will be easier to get earnings-related unemployment benefit (calculated in terms of a daily allowance) than before. Earlier, one had to belong to the unemployment fund for a period of 8 months in order to receive the pay related dole and now it is 6 months.

The waiting period to receive unemployment benefit has also been cut from seven to five days. This waiting period will be used only once a year. It will mean an average of 125 euro more for everyone who finds themselves out of work for any given period of unemployment.

From the beginning of this year the unemployed can earn up to 300 euro a month without it affecting their dole. Trade unions welcome this change, as it gives an incentive to look for small sources of income during times of unemployment.

The maximum length of unemployment benefit is now scaled according to the length of service or work history. When it is less than three years one can receive benefits for up to 400 days. If longer, the maximum length of time to claim the pay related unemployment benefit is 500 days.

There are also several other minor changes which have been introduced when it comes to claiming unemployment benefits with an aim to making the system less bureaucratic and easier to understand.

Better skills for everyone

The parents of children under three years of age can now get a flexible care allowance if they combine part time work and childcare. It amounts to either 160 or 240 euro a month depending on the number of hours worked.

The purpose of the change is to encourage parents to take part time work. Both parents can receive it at the same time. It replaces the earlier 98 euro partial care allowance.

Development of professional competence is an important question for trade unions. Unions see the new rules as a step forward. Now employees have a right to three days of paid courses in a year to develop their professional skills. Employers can get tax relief for this if the training fulfils some criteria.

Every company with more than 20 employees has to draft a plan for developing its employees’ professional skills. The plans have to be discussed together with employees’ representatives.

The main goal of the new law is to guarantee the development of skills even for those employees who have not so far been able to participate in such courses. It was an important goal for trade unions in the negotiations on the national wage agreement.

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