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    The Finnish labor legislation – an introduction part 6

    Working on a Grant or a Scholarship
    When a researcher is working on a grant or a scholarship, he or she is not in an employment relationship with any employer.

    A grant is a form of funding for the researchers to work, but does not form an employment relationship between the party that gives the grant and the grant holder. Therefore, the employment legislation I have previously discussed, does not apply to those working on grants or scholarships, except for the unemployment legislation. This is the case even when the researcher is working at the university, but not in an employment relationship with the university.

    The difficulty in separating these things may sometimes lie in that the universities may use employment contracts with the researcher and then suddenly give him or her a grant, and the researcher will still continue doing the same research work as before with the employment contract. Unfortunately, it seems that the researchers are not always fully aware of which type of work they are doing at the university. When working on a grant, the researcher is not accountable to the university for their working hours or research etc., unless, of course, they are a part of a research group and have responsibilities due to that arrangement.

    When working on a grant or a scholarship, one is practically employing oneself, and therefore responsible for their own health care, for example. Grant holders may use public health care, or private health care, but are responsible for their own health care costs.

    After the grant is used, the grant receivers may also receive unemployment compensation, if they meet the requirements that are set for all applicants seeking unemployment compensation. There are three different levels of unemployment compensation.

    The lowest level (“työmarkkinatuki” -- labor market subsidy) requires no previous work history and is paid out by KELA. The second level of unemployment compensation (“peruspäiväraha” -- basic unemployment allowance) is also paid out by KELA, but requires a work history of 26 weeks during the previous 28 months. The third and highest level of unemployment compensation is earnings-based. This third level (“ansiosidonnainen päiväraha” -- earnings-related allowance) requires a work history of 26 weeks and simultaneously a membership at an unemployment fund. FUURT members are automatically members of the Teachers’ unemployment fund.

    The difference between becoming unemployed after an employment contract or a grant is that when working on a grant, the work history may be gathered from the previous 7 years, instead of the mentioned 28 months.

    Elina Katainen, senior advisor here at FUURT, has collected a “Grant information for researchers” -material package, which is a very good source of information for grant holders. In this collection, you can find detailed information about social security, for example the mandatory MELA insurance for grant holders working over four months (the minimum amount of grant in that four month period is 1,217.33 € (2013 level), unemployment, KELA benefits, taxation and so on.

    For further information, please visit: tieteentekijoidenliitto.fi/files/188/Grant_Information_for_Researchers_2014.pdf

    text Mia Weckman
    lawyer, the Finnish union of university researchers and teachers

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