TE Office's labour policy statements and e-services
NB: Unofficial translation
The Deputy Chancellor of Justice drew the TE Office's attention to compliance with the provisions of the Administrative Procedure Act concerning the appropriateness of the service, advice, the obligation to clarify the matter and the obligation to consult the party concerned.
The complainant had registered as a full-time student at an open university. They had announced in the TE Office's e-services (Oma asiointi) that they would not apply for unemployment benefits referred to in the Unemployment Security Act and said that they had applied for rehabilitation allowance from Kela. In its labour policy statement, the TE Office stated that the complainant is studying short-term and that they are entitled to unemployment security.
According to the Deputy Chancellor of Justice, the electronic service system always provides an opportunity for misunderstandings and different interpretations by the parties. In the web service, one of the ready-made options is selected from the system and standard questions are answered with either yes or no. The person using the service may also be uncertain which alternatives correspond to their actual situation. When using the electronic service system, the importance of good communication that listens to the customer is emphasised, and the customer's actual will must always be ascertained.
From the outset, the complainant had consistently and repeatedly told the TE Office that they would not apply for unemployment benefits referred to in the Unemployment Security Act and that they would not even be entitled to unemployment benefits as a full-time student. The complainant had also asked the TE Office, among other things, which documents they should submit and why the TE Office is requesting clarification on the unemployment benefit that the complainant is not even applying for. According to the Deputy Chancellor of Justice, the complainant had actively and appropriately contributed to the investigation of the matter they had initiated in the manner referred to in the Administrative Procedure Act. However, the TE Office had ignored the complainant's repeated questions, notifications and clarifications.
The Deputy Chancellor of Justice stated that a party must be heard in accordance with the Administrative Procedure Act before issuing a labour policy statement even if it is not a decision referred to in the Administrative Procedure Act. The TE Office had neglected its obligations laid down in the Administrative Procedure Act concerning the service principle and the appropriateness of the service, advice, clarification of the matter and hearing of the party concerned. The procedure of the TE Office had led to a labour policy statement issued to the complainant, according to which the complainant was entitled to unemployment benefit, which they had not even applied for. Contrary to the complainant's interests, the statement also deprived them of the opportunity to complete short-term studies with unemployment security at a later stage. The negligence of the TE Office was, as such, reprehensible, even if it had not had this actual effect on the complainant's rights.