What are job alternation leave and compensation?

Job alternation leave is an arrangement where an employee with a full-time or a 75% working time employment contract goes on leave in agreement with his/her employer. The unemployment fund pays job alternation compensation for the duration of the leave, while the employer hires a person registered as an unemployed job seeker with the TE Office to replace the employee for the same time.

Please note: A legislative amendment to abolish job alternation leave is being prepared by the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health. According to the draft government proposal, the law would enter into force so that job alternation leave could still begin on 31 July 2024. Read more

Terms and conditions of job alternation leave

You may take job alternation leave from a full-time job if you have signed an agreement with your employer about taking job alternation leave.

To receive job alternation compensation, you must have a minimum of 20 years of employment history. In addition to 20 years of employment history, you must have worked continuously for the same employer for 13 months immediately prior to taking your leave.

You are eligible for job alternation compensation if you have been a member of the unemployment fund for at least 26 weeks (6 months) before the beginning of your leave.

Your job alternation leave can last from 100 to 180 calendar days.

Required employment history

The required 20 years of employment history should consist of pensionable work done as an employee or entrepreneur. Until 31 December 2006, your employment history can include work done from the age of 15, and since 1 January 2007, work done from the age of 18.

A maximum of one quarter of your employment history can consist of activities that are comparable to working, such as family leave (parental leave or child care leave), military service or non-military service.

The KOKO fund usually verifies the length of your employment history from the records of the Finnish Centre for Pensions. If necessary, you can provide other reliable supplementary information, such as a certificate of employment.  For example, we need supplementary information in the event that the pension record of the Finnish Centre for Pensions does not include work that you did when you were under 23 but want it to be taken into account in the calculation of your employment history.

Work performed abroad inside the EU can be included in your employment history if you provide sufficient and reliable proof of it.

If you are unsure about whether your employment history is long enough, you can ask KOKO to verify the length of your employment history in advance by sending a written request through the eService.  Please bear in mind that running a check is not the same as deciding whether you are entitled to job alternation compensation.

If you have previously received job alternation compensation, you must have had at least 5 years (60 months) of employment history since the end of your previous job alternation leave. The employment history requirement must be met by the end of the month that precedes the job alternation leave.

Working requirement

You can go on job alternation leave if you have had a full-time job or a job with working hours that exceed 75% of your sector’s maximum working hours for at least 13 months. Your employment relationship with the same employer must have lasted uninterruptedly for at least 13 months immediately prior to your leave. This period may include up to 30 calendar days of unpaid absence. Illness or accident-related absences are considered comparable to working.

Unpaid absence may include lay-offs, unpaid time off and leave of absence, study leave, strike-related absence, unpaid maternity, paternity or parental leave and child care leave.

You do not meet the criteria for job alternation leave if you have not actually been working during your employment relationship during that period.

Upper age limit and retirement

The maximum age for an employee to take job alternation leave is linked to the retirement age, being 3 years less than the lowest age for retiring on an old-age pension. For instance, if your retirement age is 65 years, your maximum age for taking job alternation leave is 62 years. You must start your job alternation leave no later than during the month in which you have your 62th birthday. The maximum age does not apply to persons born before 1957.

The old-age pension age is no longer the same for all age groups. This means that the start time of old-age pension also affects the maximum age for job alternation leave:

Year of birth Minimum age for old-age pension Maximum age for job alternation leave
1960 64 years 6 months 61 years 6 months
1961 64 years 9 months 61 years 9 months
1962–1964 65 years 62 years
1965 and after The retirement age is linked to life expectancy. The age limit will rise by up to two months each year from 2030.

You cannot retire on an old-age pension directly from job alternation leave.

Restrictions on job alternation compensation

You cannot be paid job alternation compensation if:

  • you continue to receive a salary, holiday pay or other pay or compensation from your employer,
  • you are undergoing military service, women’s voluntary military service or non-military service,
  • you are serving a prison sentence in a penal institution,
  • you are in full-time employment for a period of more than 2 weeks with an employer other than your own employer,
  • you are a full-time entrepreneur
  • you receive a social benefit that prevents receiving earnings-related allowance (e.g. sickness allowance or parental allowance).

Length of job alternation leave

Your job alternation leave can last a minimum of 100 calendar days and a maximum of 180 calendar days. Job alternation leave must be taken as one contiguous period.

If you have agreed that job alternation leave will last less than 180 days, you may extend it. Such an extension must be agreed with the employer no later than 2 months before the end of the already agreed job alternation leave. The end of job alternation leave must also be agreed with the employer. You may temporarily return to work during your job alternation leave, but this will not extend the duration of the leave.

The job alternation leave is considered to have ended if the person becomes entitled to other allowance such as maternity, paternity or parental allowance. If the job alternation leave ends prematurely, the unemployment fund has to verify that the duration of the leave was at least 100 days.

Notify us if anything changes

Please notify your unemployment fund as soon as possible if your situation changes during your job alternation leave. To notify us, use the declaration of changes form: Declaration of changes to the payer of job alternation compensation (pdf)