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Job alternation compensation

Job alternation is an arrangement where a person with a long work history takes time off work and their employer hires an unemployed jobseeker for the same period. If you go on job alternation leave, your employer does not pay you wages. Instead you apply for job alternation compensation from your unemployment fund.

Attention! Job alternation leave will be discontinued starting from 1 August 2024. 

If you plan to take job alternation leave, you need to make sure that you meet the following conditions:

  1. You have worked in full-time employment or your working hours have been over 75% of the total working hours in your sector
  2. You have made a job alternation leave agreement with your employer
  3. You have worked in your present job for at least 13 months
  4. You have at least 20 years of employment history
  5. You are not above the upper job alternation age limit
Counting of the employment history

The 13-month employment period may contain unpaid leave not exceeding 30 days. Absence due to illness or accident is considered equivalent to time at work, however. Other absences, such as childcare leave or maternity or paternity leave, are not considered equivalent to time at work.

In calculating your employment history, on the other hand, periods of maternity, paternity and parental allowance, childcare leave and military service, as well as sick leave, can be considered equivalent to employment. The required 20 years of employment history can include a maximum of 5 years of time equivalent to employment for the above reasons. Any work you have done as an adult is counted towards your employment history. For employment relationships begun before 2007, work done between the ages of 15 and 17 years is also counted towards your employment history. Employment history can also accrue from work done in EU/EEA countries or Switzerland.

The unemployment fund checks fulfilment of the employment history requirements from your pension record. If you want childcare leave, military service time or work abroad to be counted, you must send the fund certificates of these periods. The fund does not get this information automatically.

Taking alternation leave a second time

If you have been on job alternation leave previously, you must work for five years after this before you can go on job alternation leave again.

Age limit

The job alternation age limit is the lower old-age retirement age limit minus three years. You cannot start job alternation leave after the calendar month in which you reach the upper age limit.

The amount of job alternation compensation is 70 per cent of the earnings-related allowance that you would be awarded if you were fully unemployed. Unlike the calculation of earnings-related allowance, job alternation compensation is calculated from 52 weeks’ wages. 

The duration of job alternation leave is at least 100 and at most 180 days.

If you want to extend your job alternation leave, this must be agreed two months before the agreed end of the leave. Ending the leave earlier than planned or any temporary return to work must also be agreed separately. Job alternation leave is also used up during any temporary return to work.

A condition for payment of job alternation compensation is that your employer has hired a substitute to replace the employee on job alternation leave. Job alternation compensation cannot be paid for any period when a substitute has not been hired.

After your job alternation leave, you have the right to return to your original job. If this is not possible, for example due to re-organisation, you have the right to return to similar work.

You can make an employment contract with another employer during your job alternation leave, but this affects the job alternation compensation you receive. The effect of the employment relationship depends on whether the new job is full-time or part-time.

If you accept full-time work lasting over two weeks, you are not entitled to job alternation compensation during that period. If your work is part-time, your job alternation compensation is calculated from the adjusted daily allowances you would be entitled to if you were unemployed. You can find more information on adjusted daily allowances and how they are calculated here. Unlike adjusted earnings-related allowance, there is no protected amount in job alternation compensation – any wages affect the amount you receive.

Social security benefits affect job alternation compensation in the same way as they affect earnings-related allowance. Some benefits prevent payment altogether and others reduce the amount of job alternation compensation. You can find information on how benefits affect earnings-related allowance and job alternation compensation here.

Job alternation compensation is applied for using the job alternation compensation application, which you can complete in our e-services or print out here (the form is available only in Finnish and Swedish). Attach a copy of your job alternation agreement to your application. The fund gets wage information from the Incomes Register. You can send your job alternation compensation application to the fund before your job alternation leave starts. However, a decision can only be given after the job alternation leave has started.

Job alternation compensation is first paid for two weeks and thereafter in four-week periods.

The fund gets details of your wage income tax card directly from the Tax Administration. Tax is withheld in accordance with your wage income tax card, but the tax percentage is always at least 25%. If you want, you can request a revised tax card for benefits from the tax office. Then tax is withheld in accordance with the revised tax card.