Deputy-Ombudsman Jussi Pajuoja finds Kela's bulletin problematic from the perspective of the law. The relevant Act requires a decision on unemployment benefits to be given within 30 days, unless an additional report is needed. This guarantee was added to the Act over a year ago.
In the Deputy-Ombudsman's view, the summer holiday season is not an exceptional situation in the meaning of the Act and on the basis of which the lawful processing time could be deviated from.
He has asked Kela for a report on the average times needed for unemployment benefit matters to go through processing in the period May-October 2012. Kela must likewise explain what measures it has taken to ensure that also in the insurance districts with the biggest backlogs applications for unemployment benefits could be dealt with within the statutorily prescribed period.
Major regional differences in processing times
The last time the Deputy-Ombudsman asked Kela for a report on processing times was last spring, when several complaints about delays in dealing with unemployment benefit applications had been received.
According to the report then received from Kela, the average time needed for new applications to go through had been 20 days nationally in January-April. Applications were handled fastest, in 11.5 days, in the South Karelia insurance district. They took longest to deal with in Helsinki, where a decision had to be awaited for 34.5 days.
Something that the Deputy-Ombudsman finds to be a shortcoming from the perspective of equal treatment of clients is that the times taken to process unemployment benefit applications vary greatly from one Kela insurance district to another.
Additional info will be provided by Legal Adviser Juha Niemelä, tel. + 358(0)9 4321.