Unemployment security for entrepreneurs and self-employed persons

If you are an entrepreneur or employ yourself in another way, the provisions on unemployment security are different for you than for a wage earner.

If you are an entrepreneur or otherwise employ yourself part-time, you may be entitled to adjusted unemployment security, but your income will affect its amount.

If you work as an entrepreneur or otherwise employ yourself full-time, you usually retain your right to unemployment security if your work has lasted no more than two weeks without interruption. This also includes, for example, work under a commission contract. The unemployment security is adjusted on the basis of your income from entrepreneurial activities or commission contracts.

Entrepreneurial activity

Starting entrepreneurial activities during unemployment

If you are unemployed and start entrepreneurial activities lasting more than two weeks, notify the TE Office or the local government pilot of it. Your assigned expert will find out the start times of unemployment and entrepreneurial activities.

The full-time or part-time nature of your entrepreneurial activities will be assessed four months after the start of the entrepreneurial activities. You can receive an unemployment benefit for these four months if the conditions for receiving it are met. For example, you must apply for and be prepared to accept full-time work and keep your job search valid. Entrepreneurial activity is not a valid reason for declining a job offer or a service promoting employment. A refusal may result in a mandatory waiting period or imposing an obligation to work. The income you receive during these four months will affect the amount of your unemployment benefit. You must notify the payer of the unemployment benefit of the income you have received from your entrepreneurial activities. You may be entitled to an adjusted unemployment benefit.

If your entrepreneurial activity is estimated to be full-time after four months, your entitlement to unemployment security ends. If your entrepreneurial activity is considered to be part-time, you may be entitled to an adjusted unemployment benefit. This decision will only concern the time after the first four months, and it has no retroactive effect.

The assessment utilises information about the actual workload of your entrepreneurial activities or your own work, not the income or profit received from the entrepreneurial activities or your own work during the first four months. If no other evidence is available of the extent of work required by your business, the decision may be based on your personal report of the workload. 

The four-month period may start from the beginning in case of new entrepreneurial activities or self-employment, once you have met the work requirement which is the prerequisite for unemployment allowance and the maximum time for the unemployment allowance starts from the beginning.

The Unemployment security advisory services of the TE services will advise you on how your situation will affect your eligibility for unemployment security.

Assessment of entrepreneurial status

After four months have elapsed from the start of entrepreneurial activities or one's own work, an expert from the TE Office or the local government pilot will determine whether you are an entrepreneur referred to in the Unemployment Security Act. The estimate may not be the same as in taxation, for example. The unemployment benefit payer, i.e. KELA or the unemployment fund, assesses the preconditions for the payment of unemployment security separately.

In the beginning of the assessment, a clarification request will be opened for you. You can respond to this request in the E-services or on a paper form. In the clarification request, you can describe your situation in more detail and attach the necessary documents.

When assessing your right to unemployment security, among other things, the following are of significance:

  • an entrepreneur's pension insurance (YEL) or farmer's pension insurance (MYEL),
  • employment in a business or as a private entrepreneur, and
  • the share of ownership of the company.

The share of ownership applies to both the shares of family members as well as ownership through a so-called intermediary company.

Self-employment

If you are unemployed and are self-employed for more than two weeks, notify the TE Office or the local government pilot. Your assigned expert will determine the start times of unemployment and self-employment.

Self-employed persons include grant recipients, freelancers, informal carers, members of a work cooperative, and athletes. The full and part-time nature of self-employment is also assessed four months after starting activities, similarly to starting entrepreneurial activities.

As a freelancer, you can accept small amounts of work without losing your right to unemployment security. You must inform an expert at the TE Office or the local government pilot about the work in advance.

As a member of a work cooperative, you may be entitled to unemployment security if your cooperative has at least seven members owning under 15% each. If your ownership share is bigger, you will be regarded as an entrepreneur in terms of unemployment security.

Working through a billing service cooperative 

Work undertaken via a billing service cooperative is considered to be in the context of an employment relationship if you have entered into a contract of employment with the billing service cooperative. In this case, it must be possible to consider the cooperative as an employer in general. This means that the cooperative offers in its own name the services you do for your work. The cooperative is not considered to be an employer if it only provides information on job opportunities or takes care of the billing for the work done by its members. In such situations, an employment relationship can only exist between the billing service cooperative and the person responsible for issuing invoices.  

Work done via a billing service cooperative is not generally within the context of an employment relationship. The expert at the TE Office or the local government pilot will assess the impact of work other than work completed under an employment or public service relationship on your right to unemployment security on the basis of the provisions on entrepreneurs in the Unemployment Security Act.  

Completing assignments through a billing service cooperative in periods of up to two weeks

If you work as an entrepreneur via a billing service cooperative for a maximum of two weeks at a time, you are entitled to unemployment security. Please note that other conditions for receiving unemployment security must also be met. When you are employed in entrepreneurial activities for a maximum of two weeks at a time, the impact of the period of work completed as an entrepreneur on your right to receive unemployment security will not be investigated, and if the entrepreneurial activity is full-time, it will not prevent you from receiving an unemployment benefit.

You must inform the party paying your unemployment benefit of any new period of employment, and it will make a decision on your entitlement to unemployment security. In order to receive an adjusted unemployment benefit, you must be registered as a job seeker. If you receive a partial disability pension, you only need to look for part-time work.

Despite the fulfilment of the formal requirements governing the cessation of activities, an enterprise may be regarded as continuing, where, for example, you clearly try to cover the financial risks associated with the business by means of unemployment benefit. In that case, you may have several simultaneous or successive assignments. If the assignments follow one another uninterrupted without even a day’s break, the enterprise has not ceased its operations in a manner described in the Unemployment Security Act.

If you have several assignments lasting up to two weeks, contact the TE Office or the local government pilot.

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