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Covid-19 pandemic focuses need to safeguard status in law of self-employed

The ITSET Group, which brings together a number of trade unions, including the UJF, to represent the interests of self-employed people, has called for employment protection to be extended to those working under conditions similar to waged work. In Finland, the sudden reduction in work has hit the service and cultural sectors, in which many self-employed people work, particularly hard.

Extending employment protection is all the more urgent due to the coronavirus pandemic, and requires a stronger commitment to finding lasting solutions. The goal is also included in Prime Minister Sanna Marin’s government programme.

As a solution to the exceptional period, the lost earnings and operating costs of the self-employed are being compensated. The ITSET group said lauded the move as a wonderful act during this acute crisis, and the for which it is grateful. However, it stressed, it is important to look beyond the current crisis.

Restoring these involuntary entrepreneurs to within the scope of labour law would avoid the sorts of tragedies now taking place from being repeated in the future, and would safeguard society’s financial resources. More importantly, instead of partial social security reforms, a decision on labour law must be sought.

Though the coronavirus crisis is seeing changes to the government programme and the government’s working groups on employment, the issue of safeguarding the position of the self-employed concerns implementing a key principle of labour law – the protection of the weaker party. The ITSET group stresses that the Covid-19 crisis has simply highlighted the fact that the weaker members of the labour market should be protected and that the Employment Contracts Act needs to be clarified.

The ITSET group stated that the corona pandemic has revealed with new urgency what it like to be self-employed outside the sphere of waged work. The self-employed do not necessarily have a business ID, a company name, or pay unemployment insurance contributions. The situation has directly struck individuals who are wholly unprotected.