Financial adaptations and reliefs for companies during COVID-19 crisis
Pension insurance contributions allowance and credit term flexibility
Pension insurance contributions of employers will be reduced by 2,6 percentage points. These reductions would be valid from 1st of May to 31st of December 2020 and would comply with wages in which pension insurance contributions are to be paid for. Pension insurance contribution for employees would remain the same. This temporary reduction would automatically be taken care of in contribution invoices.
The provisions are not yet in force. They require the approval of the Finnish Parliament.
If needed, companies can get a longer payment period for pension insurance contributions. The extension is 5 (2 + 3) months. With this extra 3 month due date extension, employers get extra credit time for pension insurance contributions that are based on wages paid between or in February and May. Companies can apply for postponement of pension insurance contributions from their pension insurance company. An additional 2% insurance contribution interest will be charged, but there will be no late payment interest.
The Finnish Tax Administration supports businesses with extensions to tax filing deadlines, payment arrangements and eased terms. Please note that there are no tax reductions.
Change requests to prepayments
In case the estimated taxable profits are smaller than informed prior to the corona situation, companies should request a change to their prepayments. This can be done by self-notice and no additional statements are required.
Payment arrangements with eased terms
A company with a justified reason can request additional time for filing its income tax. This is only possible for companies that have no tax payments in foreclosure and the tax return and Incomes register are up to date.
- Company selects the number of payment installments, max 21
- First installment is due 3 months after the application is approved, earliest in August. Next payment installments after that, on a monthly basis.
- For companies that are under payment arrangements the late filing payment interest is lowered to 4% (normally 7%)
- Application period has started on the 25th of March
- Changes in legislation are put into operation at the end of April, therefore first applications are to be approved earliest in May
- New tax liabilities will be automatically part of payment arrangements until 31st of May
- All taxes that are under payment arrangements are not to be sent to foreclosure. Unpaid tax liabilities are not published in the tax debt register of the protest list.
Extended time for income tax or real estate tax due to special reason
- Extensions can be granted due to special cause (for example illness)
- Free-form account is enough, medical certificate is not required
- Application must arrive at the Tax Administration by the tax return’s original filing deadline
No late-filing penalties for late Incomes Register reports will be imposed in 2020.
- Late-filing penalty may be removed for special reason
There will be a late filing penalty for VAT returns of other tax returns for self-assessed taxes if filing has not been done on the due date.
- If you have a justified reason for not filing the tax return on the due date, such as illness or quarantine, you may not have to pay a late filing penalty
Tax Administrations have expedited the processing of VAT refunds
- Majority of VAT refunds are processed within a week instead of the normal processing time of 5 weeks, which expedites payments.
It is also possible to request payment arrangements for car tax or excise duties.
Information for Employers Planning Workforce Adjustments in Finland
What employers need to know when planning workforce adjustments in Finland?
If the situation caused by the coronavirus affects the company in such a way that the available work is reduced, the employer can adjust the number of employees and the length of working hours to meet the need for labor.
Laying off means temporary interruption of work and remuneration while the employment relationship continues in other respects.
An employer may lay off an employee only for one of two reasons:
- An employer lay off an employee when the employer’s potential for offering work has diminished temporarily (max 90 days) and the employer cannot reasonably provide the employee with other suitable work or training -> the lay-off will be for a fixed term.
- The employer has a financial or production-related reason for terminating the employment contract, or the work has diminished substantially and permanently, and there is no other work or training to be offered to the employee => the employer may lay off the employee until further notice.
A lay-off may be a full-time lay-off, in which case the obligation to work is completely removed, or a part-time lay-off, in which case the daily or weekly working hours are reduced.
Employees are entitled to take employment with another employer during the lay-off. When the work situation improves, the employer will notify the laid-off employees of the resumption of work.
Lay-offs principally concern permanent employees, but during 1.4. – 30.6.2020 it is also possible to lay off also temporary workers.
In certain situations it is also possible that the employer end the employee agree about the lay-offs.
Process of lay-offs
Companies with less than 20 employees:
- The employer must present employees or their representative with an advance explanation of the lay-off (the grounds and details for the lay-off). This may be given verbally or in writing. The employees or their representative must be given an opportunity to be heard concerning the explanation.
- Employees to be laid off must be notified in person (details of the lay-off) no later than 5 calendar days (during 1.4. – 30.6.2020) before the beginning of the lay-off.
Companies with 20 or more employees:
- Instead of an advance explanation of the lay-off, the negotiation procedures in the Act on Codetermination in Undertakings must be followed (=negotiations with the representatives of employees or with the employees).
- Invitation to negotiations 5 calendar days before the negotiations
- Negotiating on the grounds and effects of lay-offs. The duration of co-operation negotiations on lay-offs is shortened: the duration of the negotiations will be at least 5 five days (during 1.4. – 30.6.2020).
- Employees to be laid off must be notified in person no later than 5 calendar days (during 1.4. – 30.6.2020) before the beginning of the lay-off
- The employer must notify the local TE office of the co-operation negotiations. The notification must be made at the latest at the beginning of the negotiations. The notice is free-form, but must be submitted in writing.
The employer may terminate the employment contract if the work to be offered has diminished substantially and permanently. On the same grounds the employer is also entitled to change the employment relationship unilaterally into a part-time relationship observing the period of notice.
In these cases, normal termination procedures are to be followed. This means that the companies with 20 or more employees must follow the negotiation procedures in the Act on Codetermination in Undertakings. The length of the negotiations (14 days or six weeks) depend on how many employees the dismissals concern. There are no changes in these negotiation times.
Amendments to the labour legislation. The duration of the amendments is set at three months 1.4. - 30.6.2020.
- An employee’s employment contract can be terminated during the trial period, also for financial or production-related reasons. Normally this is not allowed.
- If an employer has dismissed employees during the period of changes required by the crisis package, the employer’s obligation to re-employ will lengthen from the current 4 or 6 months to 9 months.
Impediment of work
A coronavirus epidemic can lead to situations where work is prevented for reasons beyond the control of the employer or employee. In these situations, the employee retains the right to receive his or her salary for a period of 14 days, after which the employee is entitled to unemployment benefit. No laying-off is required. The employee is entitled to unemployment allowance. Such a situation may arise, for example, if an authority orders the closure of certain activities, a mere recommendation is not enough.
Information on unemployment allowances
During the lay-off or unemployment an employee is entitled to one of the following:
- Salary based unemployment allowance, if the employee is a member in some unemployment fund
- Basic unemployment allowance, if the employee is not a member in some unemployment fund
- KELA (The Social Insurance Institution in Finland) pays basic unemployment allowance which is 33,66 € per day and it is paid 5 days per week. This requires that the employee meets working history conditions.
- Labor market subsidy
- If the employee does not meet working history conditions, KELA pays subsidy based on evaluation of needs. The subsidy is maximum of 33,66 € per day
When facing unemployment or lay off:
- The employee must contact immediately TE – Services (former Unemployment office)
- The employee must contact immediately to her/his own unemployment fund. If the employee is not a member in any fund, then she/he must contact KELA
- TE – Services gives their opinion to the unemployment fund / KELA whether an employee is entitled to unemployment benefit. After this the application is taken care of.
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