In order to receive unemployment insurance benefits, you must have paid unemployment insurance contributions. This is a percentage of your wage that is sent to the Unemployment Insurance Fund, and that is used to fund the system.
The unemployment insurance contribution is taken from your wage and forwarded to Töötukassa by your employer. If you have doubts whether or not your employer has fulfilled that obligation, there are several ways to find out. The easiest way is to ask your employer for a pay slip, which he or she is obliged to provide when asked. You can also check the information that is available through the data the tax board has about you, or you can ask Töötukassa to check the information for you.
Every month in which contributions have been paid counts towards your “insurance period”. This period is used to determine whether you can receive a benefit or not, and for how long.
The “insurance period” is counted in months, and every month in which contributions are paid counts, irrespective how many contributions have been paid in that month. Months during which no contributions have been paid do not count, which means that the insurance period does not necessarily correspond to the time you have worked. If, for example, you receive wages (and contributions are paid) today for work performed last month, only the current month is counted, and not the month where you have actually worked.
An insurance period is reset to zero once you are granted an unemployment insurance benefit. In other words, if you have received unemployment insurance benefit before, only the periods of employment after that period are taken into account. This means that, in some cases, it may be better not to apply for the benefit so as not to lose a long insurance period. This may be the case if you are sure you will only need the unemployment insurance benefit for a few weeks.
The one exception to the resetting of the insurance period is the situation where one receives an unemployment benefit, starts working before the benefit is exhausted, and becomes unemployed again within the year after the insurance benefit was first granted.
In order to be eligible for the unemployment insurance benefit, contributions have to be paid for you for at least 12 months during the past 36 months. These periods are counted back from the date on which you register as unemployed.
If you have taken up pregnancy leave, maternity leave or parental leave during the 36-month reference period, the period which is taken into account is extended with the duration of the leave.
Once it is established that you qualify for the unemployment insurance benefit, the amount and the duration are calculated.