New bill would allow unemployed to do temporary work

The Unemployment Insurance Fund (Töötukassa) office on Tartu's Vaksali Street,
The Unemployment Insurance Fund (Töötukassa) office on Tartu's Vaksali Street, Source: Aili Vahtla/ERR

In the future, those who are registered unemployed would be permitted to do a limited amount of temporary work, according to a bill approved by the government on Thursday. The bill also provides for an increase in unemployment insurance benefits as well as unemployment benefits.

Under the new bill, registered unemployed people would be permitted to do limited amounts of temporary work, or so-called "bites of work," to the extent of up to five days per month and during a maximum of 12 months per two years. Wages for such work may total up to 40 percent of last year's minimum monthly wage per month, or this year up to €216.

According to Minister of Social Affairs Tanel Kiik (Center), this would prevent a situation in which an individual earns more while unemployed than they might earn working full time at the same job.

The unemployment insurance benefit to be paid out during the first 100 days of registered unemployment is to increase from the current 50 percent to 60 percent of a newly unemployed person's previous wages. Receiving of this benefit will also become more flexible.

Starting next year, unemployment benefits would increase as well, from the current 35 percent to 50 percent of this year's minimum monthly wage, or €292.

Opposition Social Democrats (SDE), however, find that unemployment benefits should be increased sooner.

"The plan is to increase those measures for which people have accrued insurance money beginning in August, but just where the state should come to the rescue, the plan is to implement that in January," SDE deputy chairman Lauri Läänemets said. "But we know that there may be as many as 100,000 unemployed this fall."

According to Kiik, unemployment benefits are fixed in the state budget, meaning that if anyone wants to make changes to unemployment insurance benefits, this can be done in the middle of the financial year as well.

"Increasing the unemployment benefit would require reopening the state budget," the minister explained, adding that increasing the unemployment benefit in accordance with the current unemployment rate would require an extra €10 million from next year's state budget.

The government hopes that its planned changes will be passed by the Riigikogu before Midsummer.


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Editor: Aili Vahtla

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