This document summarizes the initiatives taken in Finland to mitigate the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The 15th of April
The government decided to lift the restrictions on movement from the capital region Uusimaa since the measure no longer fills the requirements set in the law for restricting movement. Any non-critical movement is still strongly discouraged.
More information can be found on the Prime Ministers Offices website: https://vnk.fi/en/frontpage?p_p_id=missinglanguageversionnotification_WAR_languageversiontoolportlet&_missinglanguageversionnotification_WAR_languageversiontoolportlet_missingLanguageVersion=1
The 9 April
The Government decided that its policies and guidelines issued on 16 March to curb the spread of the coronavirus and protect vulnerable groups would continue to be in force until 13 May 2020.
Parliament and the Government have adopted the statutes necessary to slow down the spread of coronavirus infections. Other competent authorities have also issued binding orders and decisions that are currently in force and will be applied in the manner specifically laid down and provided for in them.
The 8th of April
The Prime Minister’s Office appointed a working group with the task of preparing a plan for the way out of the COVID-19 crisis in Finland. The group consists of permanent Secretaries of the ministries and it will report on the plan by the 1 May. The group also has the task of deciding on measures to deal with the aftermath of the crisis and will report on the measures by the 31 of May. Social partners are represented in a sub-group, which is also supported by a scientific panel with experts from various fields.
The government also presented the second additional budget of 3,6 billion euros out of which
1 billion to further support companies (500 million in budget, 500 million loans)
600 million to protective equipment
150 million of direct support to self-employed to be distributed by the municipalities
The government also decided on a family contribution of 723 euro to parents that cannot work because they have to be home with their children during the crises. A third supplementary budget will be presented in May and at least 1 billion was promised to support municipalities. So far the two additional budgets amount to 4,1 billion.
The 3rd of April
The government has restricted travel to and from the capital region (Uusimaa) on the 28 March and is shutting down restaurants from the 4 April.
On the 31 March the government introduced a financing model for sole entrepreneurs that consists of a fixed sum (up tp 2000 euros/month) to cover fixed expenses such as rents. Entrepreneurs can apply for the financing from municipalities and the scheme will run for 6 months. Entrepreneurs may be entitled to both support and the extended unemployment security.
As of 1 April, employees laid off will be entitled to unemployment benefit even if they are engaged in business activities or studies.
The temporary legislative changes in the cooperation and temporary layoff procedures have been implemented in a large number of collective agreements.
The 27th of March
The country has been in a state of emergency for the second week. The government is planning further measures including shutting down restaurants and restricting travel to and from the capital region (Uusimaa).
Direct support to businesses, mainly through Business Finland and ELY centres, was increased from 200 million to 1 billion euros in a supplementary budget approved by the parliament 27.3. The decision was made based on a recommendation from the parliamentary finance committee.
The amount of workers in co-operation negotiations has increased greatly during the week and currently amounts to 240 000 persons, either at risk, or already being temporarily laid-off. Trade Union focus is now on ensuring that the lay-offs are temporary and do not lead to actual layoffs.
The Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment has prepared temporary changes to legislation in response to the COVID 19 crises based on the decisions made by the government 20.3.
The Ministry has set up a webpage in English on measures and changes in legislation done in Corona response: https://tem.fi/en/information-on-coronavirus
The 20th of March
The government presented a larger package including an extra budget of 400 million that included measures for securing jobs based on the package negotiated by the social partners as well as a package for securing companies. The package in total amounts to 15 billion euros, including 12 billion euros of Finnvera guarantees that banks will be expected to distribute. The government also communicated that they will oversee the economic situation for municipalities and urged municipalities to refrain from temporary lay-offs at this time.
The measures are taken to safeguard people’s livelihoods and business liquidity. Initial actions are directly targeted at people and businesses and are limited to 3 months. The proposed temporary labour legislation applies throughout the labour market. Collective agreements and legislation will be used as tools.
The government also announced that self-employed and freelancers will get access to unemployment benefit during the crises.
Social partners’ proposals to help businesses in the corona crisis – “The initiative aims to support businesses as well as the workers throughout the crisis”
The 18th of March
The social partners including all three trade union confederations STTK, SAK and Akava as well as both employers’ associations EK and KT presented a common package of initiatives to secure jobs and companies. The joint initiatives included temporary reductions in pension contributions for employers and postponement of payments, temporarily increased flexibility in labour legislation speeding up negotiations regarding temporary lay-offs and improvements in unemployment security and increased access to it.
The 16th of March
The Finnish Government declared a state of emergency restricting the movement of people and the closing down of schools. The government presented a first emergency package to support the economy because of the liquidity problem that arose in many companies, notably the service sector. In the evening the government invited the social partners to discuss further emergency measures.