The new law on unemployment security took effect from the beginning of the year, accompanied by guidelines on its application issued by the Ministry of Employment and the Economy.
The UJF has generally welcomed the new rules, which it says ease the situation of freelancers who become unemployed. Problems with lack of clarity in the amended law over the status of unemployed freelancers had prompted the union to take its concerns to the parliamentary committee in social affairs and health toward the end of last year.
A key issue concerned the scope for freelancers to seek new opportunities for work without loss of benefits once a work order has been completed.
There is also, according to the union, progress in that freelancers with long-term commissions need not have such work automatically defined as their main occupation but as a sideline occupation, and thus not preclude eligibility for benefits.
However, the union believes that TE Offices (Employment and Economic Development Offices) still have too much of a say on whether work should be defined as a main or sideline occupation.
The TE Offices will have to assess the amount of work completed, rather than what it pays, but, the union points out, there is no indication of what workload would be considered an obstacle to an unemployed freelancer having to take a full-time job.
Freelancers will be able to carry out a small number of jobs without them being disqualified from receiving benefits.
Also under the new rules, freelancers’ own notifications that commissions have come to an end will be acceptable, instead of their being obliged to provide proof of hours worked. The more simple arrangement means that freelancers can more easily escape being defined as entrepreneurs and therefore more easily access benefits.
The union explained that while it believes that the clarifications to the amended law are an improvement, they do not fully address all ambiguities that potentially affect freelancers.