March 18, 2020 / 6:05 PM / 13 days ago

Finnish unions, employers agree crisis proposals over coronavirus

March 18 (Reuters) - Finnish trade unions and employers on Wednesday agreed measures to support the labour market and promote temporary changes in legislation to shore up the weakening economy, they said in a joint statement.

“The troubles of companies are here and now. Businesses need ways to cope with the corona crisis,” said Jyri Hakamies, the head of industry federation EK.

The package - which needs to be approved by the centre-left government - includes measures such as shortening the duration of lay-off talks and a reduction in employers’ pension contributions by a total of 910 million euros ($985 million) this year.

By law discussions about proposed lay-offs in Finland have to last at least 14 days. Under the agreement struck on Wednesday this period would be reduced to five days.

The reduction in employers’ pension contributions would be taken from the buffer of the occupational pension scheme, currently at around 7 billion euros, and employers’ contributions would be increased between 2022 and 2025 to rebuild the buffer.

Among measures supporting workers was one speeding up the start of payments of jobless benefit for people made unemployed.

Separately, Finnish financial sector employees abandoned an overtime ban they had enforced since late February, citing problems from the coronavirus. The ban was put in place to put pressure on employers during lengthy pay talks. ($1 = 0.9236 euros) (Reporting by Tarmo Virki in Tallinn, Editing by William Maclean)

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