Helme not in favor of unemployment benefits for those who quit

Construction work in Estonia (photo is illustrative).
Construction work in Estonia (photo is illustrative). Source: Priit Mürk/ERR

Minister of Finance Martin Helme (EKRE) said on Thursday that he does not support the paying of unemployment benefits to those who voluntarily quit their jobs, as currently being planned by the Ministry of Social Affairs. According to Helme, the unemployment insurance rate should be lowered instead.

The Ministry of Social Affairs is currently drafting a bill according to which those who voluntarily leave a job will also receive unemployment insurance benefits. It is yet unclear, however, how large a benefit such individuals would receive. Should those who quit their jobs receive the same benefits as those who are laid off, this would cost some €100 million per year.

According to Helme, however, this may cost more than €100 million.

"It may be even higher than that," he told ERR at Thursday's government press conference. "This will depend very much on how it is done, as many possibilities exist. It could be €60 million; it could be €200 million."

The finance minister noted that unemployment insurance, as its name implies, is insurance that should insure against unexpected and unforeseeable events.

"If we expand unemployment insurance to other types of methods, then we are actually in fact fundamentally changing the entire concept," he said. "We can discuss it — but in the form of we're simply going to increase payments, expand this right, I don't think is reasonable. If there seems to be money left over, then the rate should be reduced."

Kiik: Matter of social justice

Minister of Social Affairs Tanel Kiik (Center) added that the cost of the measure would indeed depend on how it is resolved.

"All of these things are currently being negotiated between parties on the labor market and various ministries," Kiik said. "Not one decision has been made as of yet. Our wish and goal is to increase the circle of those protected, as a large number of people currently pay unemployment insurance premiums but do not actually receive benefits in a difficult situation. This is a matter of social justice."

The social affairs minister stressed that the cost would certainly not be as high as €100 million. "We're talking about solutions that would fall within the framework of the current premium, or 2.4 percent in total," he added.

According to Kiik, the amended legislation could enter into force by 2022 at the earliest.


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Editor: Aili Vahtla

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