Due to coronavirus, temporary changes have been made to laws and collective agreements. The changes are described in the replies below. 

How to prepare?

Unfortunately, the support measures aimed at preventing the spread of coronavirus will inevitably lead to lay-offs and terminations of employment contracts. This will cause cancellations of summer jobs that have already been agreed upon.

Therefore, it is advisable to think of a “plan B” for the summer. For example, could you advance your studies instead of working, or do you feel it is more important at this point to take a holiday and develop yourself?

With the help of business school student contacts persons, we compiled a few guidelines for the development of plan B. 

Plan B tips on what to do instead of summer work:

  • Advance your studies (with the help of student loans and student grants)
  • Write your Bachelor’s/Master’s thesis
  • Summer studies at your university
  • Open studies 
  • Google certificates (Ads, Search)
  • Coding courses
  • Volunteering
  • MOOC (Massive Open Online Course)

You can contact your local business school student contact person if you have any concerns regarding summer work, the labour market or your future.

What happens to summer job applications and job interviews now that companies are switching to remote working? 

You should apply for summer jobs normally and follow each employer’s instructions regarding interviews. Most likely, companies will try to arrange virtual interviews.

Can the employer cancel my summer job due to the corona situation if we have already agreed on the job? And can I cancel it myself? 

An employment relationship is formed when the employer and the employee enter into an employment contract. An employment contract does not need to follow a prescribed form. Because of this, it can be made orally, in writing, electronically, or “tacitly” (e.g. a situation where a fixed-term employment contract ends, but the employee continues to work regardless). An employment contract is binding to both parties.

Termination of an employment contract: The situation caused by coronavirus is very exceptional. However, the same conditions apply to the termination of an employment contract as in normal circumstances.

Cancellation during the trial period: If the employment contract includes a trial period, the employment contract may not be cancelled on the basis of the trial period before work has begun. This applies both to you and your employer.

Due to coronavirus, a temporary amendment has been made to the Employment Contracts Act allowing the cancellation of an employment contract on financial and production-related grounds during the trial period. The legislative amendment applies to the private sector and remains in force from 1 April 2020 to 30 June 2020.

The amendment does not apply to the state, municipalities, joint municipal authorities, the Social Insurance Institution of Finland, the government of Åland, the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland or the Finnish Orthodox Church. In these institutions, an employment contract may not be cancelled on financial and production-related grounds during the trial period.

Cancellation: An employer may cancel an employment contract with immediate effect only for an extremely weighty reason. Such a reason may be deemed to exist in case the employee has committed such a serious breach of their essential obligations arising from the contract or the law that the employer cannot be reasonably expected to continue the employment relationship even for the period of notice.

I.e., if the employment contract is cancelled, the reasons must be related to the employee’s reprehensible actions. This is not the case with coronavirus. The employment contract may thus not be cancelled on financial and production-related grounds. 

Correspondingly, the employee may cancel the employment contract with immediate effect if the employer has committed such a serious breach of their essential obligations arising from the contract or the law that the employee cannot be reasonably expected to continue the employment relationship even for the period of notice. Thus, you cannot cancel your employment contract due to coronavirus.

Termination: Summer jobs are typically fixed-term contracts. As a rule, fixed-term employment contracts cannot be terminated. A fixed-term employment contract may be terminated only if the employment contract includes a termination clause, in which case the fixed-term employment contract may be terminated observing the agreed period of notice. 

If the employment contract is valid until further notice, it may be terminated even before the work has begun. If the period of notice to be observed is longer than the period remaining before the commencement of the employment relationship, the employee is required to work and the employer to pay salary for the duration of the excess days. In this situation, however, the employer and the employee may agree to terminate the employment contract earlier. 

If termination is possible as described above, the employee does not need a reason for terminating the contract. The employer, on the other hand, must have legal grounds for terminating the employment contract. In addition, an employer with more than 20 employees must, in principle, conduct co-operation negotiations before making decisions on terminations of employment contracts on financial and production-related grounds.

Termination or lay-off? Another question is whether termination of employment is the right thing to do in the coronavirus situation. If the decrease in work is only temporary, employment contracts may not be terminated, but the employer may lay off their employees. In a lay-off, the employment contract remains in force, but work and salary payments are temporarily suspended. A lay-off may remain in force until further notice or for a fixed period of time. In companies with at least 20 employees, a lay-off decision must be preceded by co-operation negotiations.

Due to coronavirus, an amendment has been made to the Employment Contracts Act that enables laying off an employee in a fixed-term employment relationship under the same conditions as an employee whose employment contract is valid until further notice. The legislative amendment applies to the private sector and remains in force from 1 April 2020 to 30 June 2020.

The employer is entitled to lay off an employee in a fixed-term employment relationship with the state, a municipality, a joint municipal authority, the Social Insurance Institution of Finland, the government of Åland, the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland and the Finnish Orthodox Church only if the employee is working as a substitute for a permanent employee and if the employer would be entitled to lay off the permanent employee.

Lay-offs are usually not subject to agreement; it is best that the employer makes the decisions regarding lay-offs. If you agree on a lay-off, you may lose your entitlement to unemployment benefits, providing you were entitled to them in the first place. If you are a full-time student, you are not entitled to unemployment benefits (also applies to summer holiday periods), but if you are considered a part-time student or you are about to graduate, this situation may arise.

Termination by agreement: Before starting work or during an employment relationship, an employer and employee may agree on the termination of both a fixed-term employment contract and one valid until further notice. However, agreement requires the mutual will of both parties. 
If the termination of the employment contract is agreed upon between the employer and the employee, the restrictions imposed by law on the above-mentioned cancellation during trial period, cancellation, termination or lay-off are not applied. 

If your employment contract is terminated by agreement, there will, in principle, be a 3-month waiting period before you qualify for unemployment benefits, providing you are entitled to unemployment benefits in the first place. If you are a full-time student, you are not entitled to unemployment benefits (also applies to summer holiday periods), but if you are considered a part-time student or you are about to graduate, this situation may arise and it is not advisable to agree on termination of employment.

Can a summer employee be laid off?

Summer jobs are typically fixed-term employment relationships, and thus, summer employees can only be laid off in exceptional circumstances. 
If the decrease in work is only temporary, employment contracts may not be terminated, but the employer may lay off their employees. In a lay-off, the employment contract remains in force, but work and salary payments are temporarily suspended. A lay-off may remain in force until further notice or for a fixed period of time. In companies with at least 20 employees, a lay-off decision must be preceded by co-operation negotiations.

Due to coronavirus, an amendment has been made to the Employment Contracts Act that enables laying off an employee in a fixed-term employment relationship under the same conditions as an employee whose employment contract is valid until further notice. The legislative amendment applies to the private sector and remains in force from 1 April 2020 to 30 June 2020.

The employer is entitled to lay off an employee in a fixed-term employment relationship with the state, a municipality, a joint municipal authority, the Social Insurance Institution of Finland, the government of Åland, the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland and the Finnish Orthodox Church only if the employee is working as a substitute for a permanent employee and if the employer would be entitled to lay off the permanent employee.

Lay-offs are usually not subject to agreement; it is best that the employer makes the decisions regarding lay-offs. If you agree on a lay-off, you may lose your entitlement to unemployment benefits, providing you were entitled to them in the first place. If you are a full-time student, you are not entitled to unemployment benefits (also applies to summer holiday periods), but if you are considered a part-time student or you are about to graduate, this situation may arise.

What options does a student have if they are laid off? 

Taking other work for the duration of the lay-off: Being laid off will not prevent you from taking other work for the duration of the lay-off. Taking other work may mean not only another employment relationship, but also working as an entrepreneur or as a self-employed person. However, the second job may not be an activity that can be considered competition to your employer, since the prohibition concerning competing activity also applies during the lay-off period. 

However, when concluding another employment contract, the employee must take into account the priority of the previous employment relationship. If the lay-off is temporary, the employee cannot enter into another employment contract that is longer than the duration of the lay-off. If the employee has been laid off until further notice and the employment situation changes, the employee must be notified of the start of work at least 7 days in advance, unless otherwise agreed. If a laid-off employee has taken on other work during the lay-off, the employee has a special right to terminate such an employment contract (even if it is a fixed-term job) with a 5-day notice period. 

Changing jobs during a lay-off: While being laid off, an employee may terminate their employment contract, regardless of its duration, without a notice period. If the date when the lay-off ends is known by the employee, this right does not apply for seven days preceding the end of the lay-off period.

Note. If you are changing jobs to go to work for a competitor and you have agreed on a non-competition period after the termination of your current employment, you should agree in writing with your employer that you are released from the non-competition agreement. This is important because, in the event that the employee terminates their employment contract during the lay-off period before 200 consecutive days have elapsed of the lay-off, the non-competition agreement remains in force, in principle. If the employee terminates their employment contract during the lay-off period only after 200 consecutive days have elapsed of the lay-off, the employment relationship is considered to have ended in reality for reasons attributable to the employer, in which case the non-competition agreement is not binding.

Lay-off/termination and earnings-related unemployment allowance for part-time students and graduates: If you are a member of an unemployment fund and you are considered a part-time student, you may receive earnings-related unemployment allowance while laid off or if your employment contract is terminated, providing the conditions for payment are met. If you are laid off or your employment contract is terminated, you should register as an unemployed jobseeker through the TE office’s online service and submit an application for earnings-related allowance to the unemployment fund.

The TE office will issue a statement to the unemployment fund on whether you are a full-time or part-time student. If you are a full-time student (also applies to summer holiday periods), the unemployment fund cannot pay you earnings-related unemployment allowance. The primary benefit for a full-time student is student financial aid.

If you are a member of an unemployment fund and you have already graduated, you may receive earnings-related unemployment allowance while laid off or if your employment contract is terminated, providing the conditions for payment are met. If you are laid off or your employment contract is terminated, you should register as an unemployed jobseeker through the TE office’s online service and submit an application for earnings-related allowance to the unemployment fund.

Members of the Finnish Business School Graduates are usually members of the KOKO fund (the Unemployment fund for highly educated). Note. If you work during your studies, it is advisable to join the KOKO fund while still a student.

If you do not belong to any unemployment fund, you can apply for benefits from Kela as a part-time student or graduate. First register as an unemployed jobseeker with the TE services and submit an application to Kela.

Advancing your studies and student financial aid: If you are laid off or your employment contract is terminated and you have no other work on the horizon, it is worth exploring the possibilities for advancing your studies during this period. Universities, for example, offer a wide range of summer studies. You should also find out if you qualify for student financial aid from Kela.

Other Kela benefits: Find out if you qualify for other benefits granted by Kela (e.g. general housing allowance, social assistance). Contact Kela.

How can I prepare for the surprises and bumps in the road I may encounter after I graduate?

As a student, you can secure your livelihood after graduation by insuring yourself against unemployment now. You may not find work immediately after graduation. Or you may have a job lined up, but work doesn’t start until a few months after you have finished your studies and you have to secure your livelihood until then. Or there may be bumps in the road if, for example, after you have been recruited, your employer cuts down on staff as a result of co-operation negotiations or lays off the entire personnel for a few weeks or even longer.

This can happen to anyone, regardless of how great you are as a person or how good you are at your job. However, you can prepare for these situations by insuring yourself against unemployment while still a student.

In all the above situations, you can receive earnings-related allowance if you have joined an unemployment fund early enough while still a student. Unfortunately, many people only think of joining an unemployment fund when their employment relationship is about to end, or they are close to graduation and have no work lined up. 

You can become a member of the KOKO fund while still a student when you are in paid employment at the time of joining. The payment of earnings-related allowance requires that you have worked for approximately six months while being a member of KOKO, i.e. the Unemployment fund for highly educated. Summer work and part-time work during your studies are a great opportunity to accumulate this six-month period.

You can insure yourself against unemployment by joining the KOKO fund while still a student:

As a student, you can secure your livelihood after graduation by insuring yourself against unemployment now. You may not find work immediately after graduation. Or you may have a job lined up, but work doesn’t start until a few months after you have finished your studies and you have to secure your livelihood until then. Or there may be bumps in the road if, for example, after you have been recruited, your employer cuts down on staff as a result of co-operation negotiations or lays off the entire personnel for a few weeks or even longer.

This can happen to anyone, regardless of how great you are as a person or how good you are at your job. However, you can prepare for these situations by insuring yourself against unemployment while still a student.

In all the above situations, you can receive earnings-related allowance if you have joined an unemployment fund early enough while still a student. Unfortunately, many people only think of joining an unemployment fund when their employment relationship is about to end, or they are close to graduation and have no work lined up. 

You can become a member of the KOKO fund while still a student when you are in paid employment at the time of joining. The payment of earnings-related allowance requires that you have worked for approximately six months while being a member of KOKO, i.e. the Unemployment fund for highly educated. Summer work and part-time work during your studies are a great opportunity to accumulate this six-month period.

You can remain a member of the KOKO fund after graduation: 

Legal services at your disposal: The membership fee of The Finnish Business School Graduates (the lowest in the industry!) includes the union’s legal services (cf. a lawyer’s market price ~€240/hour). Our lawyers provide you with personal and confidential counselling in any legal matter of your professional life, such as cooperation negotiations, lay-offs, terminations, workplace conflicts, and matters related to annual leaves, family leaves and working hours. We also help with various employment-related contracts (e.g. employment contracts, director’s/managing director’s contracts, termination agreements and severance packages). In addition, we advise our manager and supervisor members in labour law issues and provide advice for new entrepreneurs. So when you need help with labour law issues, our lawyers are there to help you by phone or appointment. 

Legal protection and professional liability insurance to protect you: Our lawyers also assist you in disputes with your employer. If negotiations do not lead to the desired outcome and you want to take your case to the court, assisted by a non-union counsel, you may use, under certain insurance conditions, our professional liability and legal protection insurance to cover your legal expenses.

Unemployment protection counselling to help you: The membership fee of The Finnish Business School Graduates includes the union’s unemployment protection counselling services. Confidential conversations with unemployment protection specialists will help you find solutions for your unemployment protection issues.

Why not protect yourself further while still a student? Our lawyers advise our student members on labour law issues in the same way as they advise our business school graduate members. However, students are not covered by the union’s professional liability or legal protection insurance. As a student, you can opt for the KylteriPlus extra service package for an annual fee of 25 euros per year, to extend your choice of services at any time during your studies. Through the KylteriPlus extra service package, you will gain access to great benefits and you will be covered by our professional liability and legal protection insurance.

I got an internship abroad, but it was temporarily cancelled due to the travel ban. Now I’m wondering whether I should find another placement in Finland or take the risk and wait for the travel ban to be lifted? 

If you want to work during the summer, you should consider accepting work in Finland, but remember first to contact the employer whose internship you have accepted abroad in order to cancel it (preferably by e-mail to have proof in black and white). If, on the other hand, you really want this particular foreign internship, you can follow the situation and wait for the travel bans to be lifted. However, this option includes the risk that the situation is prolonged and the travel bans remain in place, and you might end up with no work for the summer. Both options certainly have their pros and cons, and it depends on the person which option is more convenient.

The final study period is moved forwards by one week due to the corona situation, which means that schools end one week later than planned in spring. What can I do if my studies overlap with my summer job? That is, if work has already started, but I should attend mandatory lectures and take exams in the last week.

If lectures and exams overlap with your summer job, you should raise the issue with your employer and work together to find a solution to the situation.  Many workplaces have flexible working hours, which enables studying alongside summer work.

Can an employee receive compensation for the cancellation of work shifts if, for example, work at an event has been cancelled due to coronavirus? 

These situations are assessed on a case-by-case basis, depending on the reason for the cancellation of shifts and the situation. If an employee is prevented from working by circumstances for which the employer is responsible, such as disruptions in the supply of raw materials or other materials, the employee is entitled to full pay for the period of the impediment, unless otherwise agreed. In this case, the employee is required to be available to the employer and ready to work if necessary. 

What kind of help can a student get from the union and the fund? 

Legal services: If you are concerned about a legal issue related to your employment relationship, you can contact the legal counselling services of the Finnish Business School Graduates. Our legal counsels advise you every weekday at 9–12 without appointment, tel. +358 20 693 205. You can also make an appointment in our booking calendar.

Unemployment protection counselling: Contact the unemployment protection counselling service of the Finnish Business School Graduates from Monday to Thursday at 9–12 without appointment, tel. +358 20 693 273. 

Student financial aid and Kela benefits: In matters related to student financial aid or Kela benefits, please contact the payer of the benefit, i.e. Kela, directly.

Career services: Confidential conversations (by phone or face-to-face) with a career coach will help you find solutions for your career, job search and well-being at work. There are also various tools available for additional support and to help you plan your career.

Business school student contact person: You can contact your local business school student contact person if you have any questions regarding membership. 

You can also ask for advice through the chat service, where you will receive an answer to your question right away or you will be referred to the right expert.
  Last updated 27.4.2020 – Ida LevänenShare   Asset Publisher