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Act on Job Alternation Leave (1305/2002) recovery of the job alternation allowance (TAS 152/2015, issued on 29 December 2015)

The Trade Union of Education (OAJ) asked the Ombudsman for Equality to advise authorities on practices to be observed for the legal provision concerning the recovery of the job alternation allowance. OAJ referred to a situation, in which a person first takes a job alternation leave and then a family leave, so that the minimum duration of the job alternation leave is not met and, in turn, the person is not entitled to receive a job alternation allowance. The job alternation allowance paid to the person in question would have to be recovered and the person would have to have an income-free period from the end of the job alternation leave to the beginning of the family leave.

As stated in section 19 of the Act on Job Alternation Leave: "...Recovery may be waived either fully or in part, if this is considered reasonable and if the unduly payment of the allowance has not been due to the alternator’s deceitful behaviour...". Even though it is reasonable to waive recovery in the case in question, the moderation of recovery would not be, according to OAJ, assured without specific guidelines concerning the matter.

In the Equality Act (609/1986), discrimination means, among others, treating someone differently for reasons of pregnancy or childbirth, on the basis of parenthood or family responsibilities, or other reasons related to gender. According to Section 4 of the Equality Act, authorities must promote gender equality.

According to section 2(2) of the Act on the Ombudsman for Equality (1328/2014), it is the task of the Ombudsman for Equality to supervise compliance with the Equality Act by means of initiatives, advice and guidance. Like the OAJ, the Ombudsman for Equality feels that it is important to waive the recovery of job alternation allowance in cases such as this. As a result, the Ombudsman for Equality requested that the Ministry of Employment and the Economy further clarify the procedural guidelines concerning the Act on Job Alternation Leave as specified above the next time that the Act is revised or updated.