Unemployment Insurance Fund: 8,000 people have done work bites in past year

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

Starting from September 1 2020, everyone registered as unemployed has been able to engage in short-term employment, or work bites, in addition to job hunting; according to the Unemployment Insurance Fund, the option has since been used by close to 8,000 people.

Prior to the corresponding new law's entry into effect, a person's registered unemployment status had to be terminated if they wanted to engage in short term employment, spokespeople for the Unemployment Insurance Fund said.

"For many people, terminating their registered unemployment and then re-registering it was off-putting and caused a lot of confusion. These fears have now been defeated and people are actively using the option to earn some extra cash in addition to job hunting without losing their health insurance, unemployment insurance benefit and unemployment allowance," head of the department of services for job seekers and employers at the Unemployment Insurance Fund Marina Radik said in an overview of short-term employment.

When registered as unemployed, people can undertake work bites on eight days per month. For instance, one eight-day employment contract per month or even eight one-day agreements can be concluded as the law does not impose any restrictions in this regard. The gross salary earned from work bites cannot exceed €233.60, or 40 percent of the minimum salary this year. 

The largest number of work bites has been done in the area of customer service and trade, followed by catering, accommodation, cleaning service and construction. The average duration of a work bite is two to three days in one month.

The number of completed work bites was 1,594 in September, 2,321 in October and in recent months, the figures have been around 3,000. The highest number of work bites, 3,901, was registered for May, which may largely be linked to restrictions having been relaxed and the volume of seasonal work growing in that month, according to Radik. In June, too, the number of people undertaking work bites was larger than in most of the preceding months. 

Women do work bites more often than men with the share of them being 70 percent. Both young and older people engage in short-term work; however, such form of employment is slightly less used in the age groups below 19 and over 60 years.

Some 70 percent of the people engaging in short-term unemployment have either higher or vocational education. Work bites are more popular among people who have been registered as unemployed for up to six months. Some people who have been unemployed for years have also become more active and returned to the labor market now that the option of undertaking work bites has been made available. 

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Editor: Kristjan Kallaste

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