Office workers at a desk in Helsinki in July 2020. The Finnish Startup Community has reiterated its concern about a government plan to set a time limit for the re-employment of unemployed foreign workers in Finland. (Olivia Ranta – Lehtikuva)

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START-UPS in Finland continue to worry about a government proposal for tough re-employment requirements on foreign employees, reports YLE.

The Finnish government is moving forward with a bill decreeing that foreign specialists must leave the country if they fail to re-employ themselves within six months and other holders of work-based residence permits within three months after becoming unemployed.

Although the re-employment requirement for specialists was extended from three to six months, it remains relatively short, Youssef Zad, the chief economist at the Finnish Startup Community, stated to YLE on Sunday. Zad pointed out that the recruitment process for specialists can last several months because of the small size of labour markets in Finland.

“Finland has such small labour markets that there are only a few firms here that can hire specialists to top-level positions,” he said. “The more specific the expertise of an employee, the longer recruitment takes.”

Zad viewed that the re-employment requirement is a step in the wrong direction for one of the key goals of the Finnish Startup Community: Making Finland the world’s best place for entrepreneurship and talent.

“If employees realise that they won’t necessarily get a new job quickly in Finland after becoming unemployed, they’ll rather go to, let’s say, Germany or Sweden. Or anywhere else with more jobs.”

Also other countries have instituted similar restrictions on work-based residence permits, he acknowledged. The Finnish proposal, though, stands out in that it would combine strict legislation with strict implementation by obligating employers to report all foreign employees who become unemployed to the Finnish Immigration Service (Migri).

“Now we’re getting a relatively tough law with tough implementation. That makes it a problem for many startup companies,” analysed Zad.

He gauged that the proposal is based on a flawed assumption about the intentions of foreign workers: that they are relocating to the country to abuse the social security system.

“They aren’t interested in social security,” he countered. “They’re interested exclusively in whether or not they can find a new job in the required time. They’ll look for work – even at their own expense.”

The proposal will also have ramifications for the reputation of Finland, according to Zad.

“We as Finland should be focused on figuring out how we can get the best people to come work here and how we can stay competitive in the eyes of these people. Not on coming up new ways to kick out folk,” he emphasised.

A public comment period on the bill is scheduled to start this spring. The Finnish parliament will debate the bill next autumn, while the implementation is expected to take place early next year.

Aleksi Teivainen – HT

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