Unemployment fund's supervisory board discusses benefits system reform

  • 2020-05-06
  • BNS/TBT Staff

TALLINN - The supervisory board of the Estonian Unemployment Insurance Fund on Wednesday discussed proposals of the minister of social affairs aimed at making the system of unemployment insurance more flexible. 

Specifically, the minister is proposing to amend the law to permit people registered as unemployed to work on a temporary basis without losing the status of unemployed, involve in the unemployment insurance system self-employed persons and members of management boards, tie the length of the period during which unemployment insurance benefits are paid to the economic cycle, and increase the size of the unemployment insurance benefit and unemployment allowance, spokespeople for the Estonian Unemployment Insurance Fund said. 

The chairman of the supervisory board of the Unemployment Insurance Fund, Tanel Kiik, said that all stakeholders have made laudable efforts to make the unemployment insurance system more flexible and to do it faster than originally planned. 

"The Ministry of Social Affairs presented its proposals for updating the unemployment insurance system in January of this year. The impacts of the restrictions arising from the emergency situation on the economy have brought with them a need to move forward with some changes at a faster pace to find solutions that will help people improve their coping and reduce the poverty risk of unemployed people," Kiik said.

According to the amendments, temporary working would be permitted in the future during a limited period of time while the person is registered as unemployed, while limits would be set also on the remuneration that can be received for such work. For the unemployed person the status of an unemployed person, health insurance and unemployment benefits would be preserved during temporary work. 

With a second amendment, also members of governing and controlling bodies, and self-employed persons, who at present have no access to unemployment insurance due to their form of work, would be included in the unemployment insurance system. Under the proposal, they would be paid the unemployment insurance benefit at the same rate as people having an employment contract.

A third amendment would link the length of the period of the payment of the unemployment insurance benefit to the situation on the labor market system to enable the payment of the benefit more generously during difficult times in the economy when the period of searching for a job is longer. 

The last of the amendments discussed calls for raising the rates of the unemployment insurance benefit and the unemployment allowance to improve the social protection of the unemployed and prevent the impoverishing of people who are out of employment. 

The supervisory board of the Unemployment Insurance Fund will continue the discussion on May 13.

The same proposals were discussed at a meeting of the Cabinet on April 30. If approved by the government and the parliament, the amendments could take effect already this summer.