Unemployment periods are more common today, as the working life is increasingly fragmented. After graduation people no longer immediately seek the job to last them a lifetime, instead they gain work experience from various work environments while building up their careers. Also, the increase of fixed-term employment and gig jobs has an impact on the number of unemployment periods. Unemployment can be an opportunity to change direction and find something new and interesting.


An unemployed job-seeker is someone whose job search is valid in the way prescribed in law and who is not in an employment relationship nor employed in full-time business activities or his or her own work in an uninterrupted period of over two weeks as intended in the Unemployment Security Act. In principle, also an employee who is laid off temporarily or entitled to an adjusted unemployment benefit is considered unemployed.

If you become unemployed, you must register in the TE office as a job-seeker looking for a full-time job. One essential precondition for unemployment benefit is that the unemployed job-seeker is available to the job market and the job search is in effect in line with the instructions of the TE office.

Unemployment benefits

Unemployment benefits include an earnings-related unemployment benefit paid by the unemployment funds, a basic daily allowance paid by Kela and a labour market subsidy. The basic unemployment allowance and labour market subsidy are of the same amount.

An unemployment fund is a community with either employees or entrepreneurs as members. It provides its members with protection of earnings for the unemployment period. Membership in an unemployment fund is the best way to secure livelihood during unemployment. Then the earned income will affect the amount of the unemployment benefit, i.e. the higher your past income, the better the unemployment benefit.

If you have been absent from the labour market without an acceptable reason for over six months, you have no right to a daily unemployment benefit until your previous employment requirement has been met again. Read more about unemployment benefits here.

In order for you to have a right to an earnings-related unemployment benefit, you must be a member of an unemployment fund for 26 calendar weeks and pay the membership fee to an unemployment fund. As a member of a trade union you usually also belong to an unemployment fund. However, do check that you are also a member of an unemployment fund.

The earnings-related unemployment benefit consists of a basic amount and an earnings part, calculated from your income. The calculation model for the earnings-related unemployment benefit is prescribed by law and it is the same regardless of the line of industry of occupation. You can apply for the earnings-related unemployment benefit at your unemployment fund.

For further information on the earnings-related unemployment benefit, contact your unemployment fund or go to www.tyj.fi.

You get a basic unemployment allowance if you meet the previous employment requirement but have not been a member in an unemployment fund for at least 26 weeks. The amount of the basic unemployment allowance changes every year. You apply for it at Kela.

More information on the basic unemployment allowance here.

The labour market subsidy is intended for the people entering the labour market for the first time and for the unemployed whose unemployment allowance period has already ended or who have not met the previous employment requirement. The labour market subsidy is the size of the daily unemployment allowance and means-tested. In addition to the unemployed person’s own income, also the parents’ income may affect the amount of the benefit.

For anyone under 25 who has not attained education leading to qualifications after comprehensive or upper-secondary school, the precondition for paying labour market subsidy is that they have applied for at least two university places for studies commencing in the autumn. There is a 21-week waiting period for the labour market subsidy, if the applicant has no vocational education and has not met the previous employment requirement.

Further information on labour market subsidy available here.

Previous employment requirement

To receive the daily unemployment benefit, you must have met the previous employment requirement. Your previous employment requirement is met when you have been in paid work for 26 calendar weeks (approx. six months) in total in the previous 28 months and the working time has been at least 18 hours per week. The pay must be in line with the collective labour agreement. The work does not have to be uninterrupted, the 26 calendar weeks can be accrued from several shorter employment relationships. 

Waiting period

A general obligation for the recipient of the unemployment benefit is to actively seek work and education and to carry out the employment plan. The employment plan is a plan compiled by the TE office together with the job-seeker, and it is advisable to actively affect its content.

The waiting period is the uncompensated term during which the unemployment benefit cannot be paid. The waiting period is provided in the Unemployment Allowances Act. A waiting period is set for the unemployed, if they have acted in a reproachable manner with respect to labour policy, such as refused or resigned from work without a valid reason. Waiting periods are also imposed in situations where the unemployed job-seeker does not comply with the employment plan of the TE office or refuses services that would advance employment.

Studying while unemployed

As a rule, a full-time student is not entitled to unemployment benefits. The primary benefit for full-time students is student allowance. However, there are exceptions to this rule, and if you wish to start studying while unemployed, it is worth reading about vocational labour market trainings, apprenticeship trainings, the opportunities for short-term or part-time studies and about independent studies on the unemployment benefit. If you plan to start studies as an unemployed job-seeker, contact first the TE office.

By vocational labour market training we usually mean vocational training after comprehensive school. Vocational labour market training organized by TE offices allows you to get the same benefit as when you are unemployed, and if the training was included in the employment plan, you can get this benefit in its increased form.

Apprenticeship training allows you to get yourself an occupation and to study for vocational qualifications or parts of it. The majority of studies is organized in a job at the workplace. Apprenticeship training is full-time and based on a fixed-term work contract. The employer will pay you wages during the apprenticeship training.

Part-time studies will not prevent you from getting unemployment benefits. The Unemployment Allowances Act defines full-time and part-time studies. If you plan to study while unemployed, contact first the TE office. The TE office will tell you whether the studies you are planning are full-time or part-time studies.