Finland's government is aiming to use new measures to improve the country's employment rate. A new bill from the Ministry of Employment includes a requirement that people in receipt of unemployment benefit will have to apply for at least one job per week, or risk losing their benefits.
At the same time, local employment offices will no longer automatically design an employment strategy for each jobseeker. Instead, they will be required to apply for jobs that they either find themselves, or that the employment office suggests to them based on their experience and training.
They will be required to make 12 applications over 12 weeks.
If they fail to do so—and to report the application via an online system—they can face the sanction of losing their benefits for 60 days. At present jobseekers face sanctions if they don't apply for specific jobs the employment office recommends. In that respect the proposal is a relaxation of current requirements.
The proposal, which was leaked on Wednesday and reported in Helsingin Sanomat before being published on Friday ahead of a consultation phase, has already been criticised by opposition MPs.
"The longer a person is unemployed, the more social problems there can be, particularly in terms of coping and wellbeing," said Green MP Outi Alanko-Kahiluoto. "That's why I think it's inhumane to think that we'd sanction someone if they do not apply for 12 jobs in 12 weeks."
That criticism was rejected by Employment Minister Jari Lindström, who claims the new system is a moderate reform.
"The draft also says that the number of sanctions would probably fall under the new system, however it turns out [after the consultation]," said Lindström. "The duty to make applications in this draft is just one job per week, which in my opinion is quite a moderate proposal."
The proposal is part of the government's strategy to increase employment rates in Finland to 72 percent from the current level of less than 69 percent.