The current Coronavirus pandemic will inevitably have an impact on the Finnish music industry, including on upcoming events and professionals’ working arrangements. It will depend on your contractual terms and conditions whether you can expect to be paid for cancelled performances or whether no payment is due because of a force majeure clause.
On Monday, March the 16th 2020, the Finnish government has limited public gatherings to 10 people to slow down the coronavirus epidemic. This forms the basis of force majeure in the assignment and other contractual relations. Employers are obliged to pay salaries under the Employment Contracts Act.
OBS! On 20th of March 2020, the Finnish government has agreed on a wide package that will secure jobs and livelihoods and ease the financial situation of companies.
The Government will implement most of the measures proposed by labor organizations to ensure both employer and employee side of survival in an emergency. These measures are particularly important for the livelihoods of people who will be laid off or will lose their jobs. They also make it easier for companies to adapt to difficult situations. For example, deadlines related to layoffs will be shortened.
In addition to the measures proposed by the labor market organizations, the government guarantees the livelihood of entrepreneurs and freelancers, regardless of the form of enterprise, through unemployment insurance.
The financing of companies is secured in billion-sized activities. In addition, new direct payments will be introduced. The purpose of these is to secure the liquidity of companies during the crisis and to prevent bankruptcies. The measures apply to all sectors.
Finnish Musicians’ Union is constantly following the situation and will keep the members informed as soon as more information is available!
The Coronavirus pandemic and contracts
My upcoming gig was cancelled due to an administrative order to cancel public shows. Am I still entitled to pay?
Whether you are still entitled to be paid depends entirely on the sort of contract you have in place. As a salaried employee (työsuhteinen työntekijä), you are entitled to 14 days’ pay in the event that you are prevented from working for reasons beyond the control of both you and your employer. This situation is due to the coronavirus pandemic, when a government order prevents presentation in the workplace. Currently, public gatherings are limited to 10 people. However, the employee’s right for salary in the case of impediment requires that the employee would be available to the employer. Thus, if a single shift / gig has not been canceled, the employee should be available until the cancellation.
If you are not a salaried employee, your right to receive pay will depend on the terms and conditions of your contract and will be assessed on a case-by-case basis. As a general rule, the force majeure arrangements in your contract will apply. An administrative order issued by the Finnish authorities relating to an event, venue or location may constitute a force majeure event applicable to both parties. However, the principle of force majeure may be invoked even if the contract does not expressly mention this.
How is the employee’s right for 14 days’ pay interpreted?
In case an employee is completely prevented from working at the workplace for reasons beyond the control of the employee and the employer, the employee has the right to be paid for a maximum of 14 days. Work must therefore have been completely prevented. The issue is considered per each employee.
The employee is entitled to a salary even if the working days during which he or she was prevented from working were over a period of more than 14 calendar days. Thus, 14 working days may accrue as the impediment continues. This situation will occur, for example, when shows have been agreed for the spring time and an administrative order prevents the performance.
The provision in Chapter 2, Section 12 (2) of the Employment Contracts Act is mandatory. The obligation to pay wages in these situations cannot be agreed otherwise by collective agreement or employment contract. An employer cannot avoid paying 14 days’ pay by laying off workers who are prevented from working.
A municipal orchestra announced that my work period for the spring due to start in three weeks has been cancelled. At the same time, they told me that I will not be paid for the period, as the statutory two-week paid period already started from the cancelling announcement and will have run out before the work period would begin. What does the law say?
In such a situation, the statutory two-week paid period starts when work is prevented due to an assembly ban by authorities. Work cannot be deemed to be prevented before it would actually begin. The two-week period is, therefore, not calculated from the announcement but from the time that work would have actually begun. Should the work period extend outside of the two-week period, the exceeding period will not be paid, as the statutory maximum is two weeks from the beginning of the prevention of work.
I have been quarantined due to the Coronavirus pandemic and I have had to cancel performances/stay at home? Am I still entitled to be paid during the quarantine period?
In order to prevent the spread of an infectious disease, you may be ordered not to attend your place of work or to self-isolate or you may be placed under quarantine. The order is personal and done by an infectious disease specialist. You may be entitled to receive your pay for the duration of your absence. If you are not entitled to pay, you will receive the Kela communicable disease allowance instead. Whether or not you are entitled to pay during your absence depends on the terms and conditions of a collective agreement. If the collective agreement that applies to you stipulates that you will be paid during an absence under the terms of the Finnish Communicable Diseases Act, you will continue to receive your standard rate of sick pay. For example, the general municipal collective bargaining agreement (kunnallinen yleinen virka- ja työehtosopimus) stipulates that sick pay will be paid to staff who have been ordered to not attend their place of work or who have been placed in isolation.
Above mentioned arrangements of absence tend not to have been agreed at the collective agreement level for musicians and musicians also often work on a self-employed basis. Under these circumstances, all workers who have been asked not to attend their place of work, to enter isolation or quarantine are entitled to receive the Kela’s communicable disease allowance. You are also eligible for this allowance if you have a child under the age of 16 that has been asked to self-isolate at home and you are unable to go to work. There is no qualifying period before you can begin receiving the Kela communicable disease allowance and it is being paid to cover in full your loss of earnings due to order of absence from work, isolation or quarantine. The allowance is calculated on the basis of your salary, i.e. the pay you would have received had you continued to attend work as normal. If you’re self-employed, your sickness allowance will be calculated on the basis of your annual YEL or MYEL contribution.
In order for the allowance to be paid to you, you will need to provide a statement from an infectious disease control doctor in your municipality or hospital district confirming that you have been instructed to not attend your place work or to enter isolation or quarantine. The daily allowance is designed to cover your loss of earnings and can only be paid for the days when you have been unable to work due to being isolated or quarantined. This means that the daily allowance will not be paid during annual leave or if you are able to work from home. Your employer will need to provide you with a statement confirming your loss of earnings. This is why it is important to ensure that all shifts and gigs have been agreed in writing in advance.
You can also receive the Kela daily allowance if you are placed in quarantine or isolation elsewhere in the EU. To receive the daily allowance you will need to provide a statement from a doctor authorised to prescribe isolation or quarantine.
My gig was cancelled “just to be on the safe side” before the administrative order was issued by the government and I’ve now lost out on work that had already been agreed. Am I entitled to pay? What do I need to do next?
The answer to this question depends on whether you entered into the contract as an employee or as a self-employed service provider and what the legal status of the other party to the agreement is. However, you cannot terminate a binding contract without invoking force majeure. In the event of a dispute, please get in touch with us. All force majeure situations will be assessed on a case-by-case basis.
If my tour is cancelled, who’s responsible for the costs resulting from the cancellation, excluding any loss of earnings? I’m thinking of other costs like visas, flights and car hire, which can amount to significant sums of money.
The first question you will need to address is whether you were contracted to work on the tour as an employee or on a self-employed basis and who it is you have entered into the agreement with.
Let’s assume that you were going to be working on this tour on a self-employed basis and had planned to invoice the local organisers for your work. This means that you are classified as a direct supplier. Under such a circumstance, you will need to find out whether there has been a valid reason for the cancellation, for example a force majeure event due to a decision taken by the Finnish authorities. If there is no valid reason for the cancellation, you can continue to demand payment from the other party to the agreement. However, you will also need to check whether cancellation is permitted under the terms and conditions of your agreement. We do recognise that regardless of what your contract says, in reality you may not feel able to claim payment under the circumstances. In legal terms, you would be within your rights to do so.
If the cancellation is valid and lawful under the terms of your agreement and the cancellation has been done in line with your agreement and due to force majeure, you cannot claim payment or compensation from the other party.
The Finnish Musicians’ Union does not offer a membership benefit or insurance product that would cover the loss of earnings under these circumstances. (The exception to this is the Musicians’ Sick Fund, which will pay out a daily allowance under certain circumstances). The If insurance provider insurance policy will additionally offer certain types of cover but this is limited to leisure travel only. To make an insurance claim under the circumstances, you would need to have your own policy in place or be able to make a claim on the event organiser’s policy. You could contact the event organiser to find out whether their insurance policy covers costs. The larger booking agencies have insurance policies in place in case of illness – it is possible that the agencies may be liable to pay compensation to the organisers, musicians and other contractual parties. Insurance providers will rarely, if ever, cover costs arising from force majeure event.
If you are in a position where you have to cover costs resulting from force majeure, you can deduct them as a business cost through your tax calculation. If you are facing serious financial hardship as a result of a tour cancellation, and you contribute to an unemployment fund, please contact the fund directly. It is also worth checking whether your airline, car hire company or other similar provider have amended their terms and conditions in response to these exceptional circumstances. Finnair, for example, is allowing all customers to amend their reservations provided that certain conditions are met.
If you are a salaried employee, a flight ban or other travel restriction imposed by the authorities which prevents you from attending your place of work will be considered force majeure. Under these circumstances, your employer will be responsible for covering any additional costs you may incur, including travel costs. They will also need to continue to pay you your salary as normal for the duration of the disruption. If you are travelling in a private capacity, i.e. you are on holiday, you will not be entitled to pay, but your absence will be deemed authorised. In other words, the precautions and actions taken by the authorities do not automatically and in all cases mean that you have been prevented from working for reasons that are beyond the control of you and the employer, as the impediment would need to affect your place of work directly for this to be the case.
I have the Coronavirus. Am I eligible for sick pay?
If you are unwell, the normal arrangements with regard to sick pay and the Kela sickness allowance will apply.
Will the Musicians’ Sick Fund cover loss of earnings or costs arising from the Coronavirus pandemic?
All our members are automatically insured under the Musicians’ Sick Fund. The fund will pay a daily sickness allowance for a period of up to 90 days for each workday agreed before the illness to cover the qualifying period (usually nine days) under the Health Insurance Act with the exception of the first day of incapacity for work. The daily allowance will not be paid if you are in receipt of holiday pay, full sickness allowance, daily unemployment benefit, training or labour market subsidy If your employer is paying part of your salary, the fun can pay a partial daily allowance to you.
If you are admitted to hospital in Finland, the fund will compensate the in-patient charges and the basic charge levied by hospitals and health centres in accordance with the lowest payment category of a central hospital’s operational unit for up to 10 days in every calendar year.
Am I entitled to unemployment fund benefits if I lose out on work due to the Coronavirus pandemic?
Yes. If you are a salaried employee, you are entitled to full pay for a maximum period of 14 days, if you are completely prevented from working for reasons beyond the control of both you and your employer. Your employer will not be required to continue paying your salary after 14 days. After this period, you will be eligible to receive unemployment benefit.
In addition to unemployed jobseekers, laid-off staff and people whose salaries are not being paid and who are not continuing to perform their work duties for an equivalent reason, are all entitled to unemployment benefit. These “equivalent reasons” include situations where you are prevented from working for reasons beyond the control of both you and your employer, such as a pandemic.
Part-time self-employed people are also entitled to the daily allowance to cover loss of earnings due to the Coronavirus. If you are self-employed full-time, you will only be entitled to the daily allowance if you are a member of an unemployment fund.
Under the Communicable Diseases Act, a communicable disease allowance is payable if you are ordered to not attend your workplace or to isolate or if you are placed under quarantine. If you are paid the communicable disease allowance, it will be deducted from your daily unemployment allowance.
Do I need a statement about the cancellation of gigs when I register with the TE Office and the unemployment fund?
When you register as an unemployed jobseeker, you must be able to prove that you have been laid off or that your employment has ended. In the case of a lay-off, you have been given a written notice of the lay-off. In some cases, the employer will notify the TE Center directly about layoffs. On the other hand, if your employment has ended and this is not reflected in f.ex. your fixed-term employment contract, you can request a separate certificate from your employer that your employment has ended. If necessary, the Employment and Economic Development Center will give instructions regarding the statement.
The coronavirus pandemic does not constitute a specific justification for receiving unemployment benefit, but entitlement to unemployment benefit is governed by general terms and conditions of unemployment provisions.
If your assignment or job compensation gig has been cancelled, you can mark also those dates in the days of unemployment. If the cancellation of the show is disputed, the day should be marked to be litigated, which may result so that the daily unemployment benefit may not be paid.
If you’ve not been able to find the information you’re looking for, please get in touch:
Employees / collective agreements:
Freelancers, self-employed and business owners:
Lottaliina Pokkinen, Head of Legal Affairs: email@example.com
Jaakko Kämäräinen, Freelance Coordinator, firstname.lastname@example.org
Please note: Juho Viljanen, the shop steward representing freelancers is currently on parental leave.
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Please note that we have taken the decision to close our office to visitors until further notice from Friday, 13 March 2020 onwards.
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