Personal assistance for international students studying in Finland

The home municipalities of Finnish students with disabilities are in charge of providing the students with personal assistants and transportation services, for example. However, this does not cover international students, and universities have no allowances for individual services.

Short-term assistance may be possible as part of JYU students’ studies. When more extensive daily support is required, the student may

  • bring his/her own assistant
  • hire a personal assistant from an assistant service
  • employ an assistant.

Assistant services can be bought from companies defined as person-to-person services. In this case, the company will normally take care of employer-related duties on your behalf, such as the calculation of wages and their payment. Using such services makes the process easier for you but raises the costs. Please note that when using company services, there may be fewer opportunities to select assistants or affect what skills they have.

Employing a personal assistant

When employing an assistant, the person who needs assistance will act as the employer of the personal assistant. This includes finding the assistant and taking care of payments and other employer responsibilities. Finding the assistant well in advance before arrival will help you start your studies smoothly. The following Personal Assistant Employer To Do List may help you through the procedure:

  • Prepare a job advertisement
  • Acquire a Finnish personal identity code
  • Report a vacancy
  • Interview the candidates
  • Choose the assistant
  • Open a bank account
  • Make a Contract of Employment
  • Obtain the statutory insurance for employees (Employment pension insurance and statutory accident insurance) 
  • Choose Palkka.fi and/or other services for payments
  • Establish routines of payment and shift schedules, time sheets etc.
  • For more information, consult University Services and City of Jyväskylä Social Services/Services for the disabled.

Finding a personal assistant

Prepare a job advertisement, including a job description and requirements (e.g. what the assistant is required to do, required language skills, duration of employment, daily working hours, wages etc.).

There are many web services available for advertising job vacancies. One of the most popular channels is the Report a vacancy service run by TE Services (Finnish employment services). You can report a vacancy by contacting TE Services by telephone or by using an online form. Using the online form requires a Finnish personal identity code.

In addition to placing your add on the Report a vacancy service run by TE Services, you can request the University of Jyväskylä to advertise your job opening to JYU students via the TEP/jobs web service and the Student Services of JAMK University of Applied Sciences at studentservices(at)jamk.fi.

Acquiring a Finnish personal identity code

The local TE office can order a Finnish personal identity code for you from the local Register Office (http://www.te-palvelut.fi/te/en/index.html). If you are already in Finland, apply for the personal identity code from the local Register Office of the city where you live. The personal identity code will also be useful when opening a bank account.

Costs of employing an assistant in Finland

Those who have been nominated to Erasmus+, Nordplus or FIRST+ exchange and have a severe disability or exceptional special needs may be entitled to extra funding to cover the additional costs related to the exchange. Please contact the Erasmus+ or Norplus coordinator of your institution or the FIRST+ coordinator at JYU for further details. To estimate the costs to be covered, you should consider the following costs:

  • Wages of the assistant, as well as employer payments and compensations obligatory under law (social security payments, pension payments, employee health care fees, as well as obligatory insurance payments for injury or unemployment insurance).
  • Compensation under the Working Hours Act (605/1996) for holiday or overtime work, compensation under Annual Holidays Act (162/2005) and compensation for sick leave pay under the Employment Contracts Act
  • Costs incurred in hiring a temporary assistant for a period of leave.
  • Other reasonable and necessary costs incurred by the assistant, including costs relative to recruiting and training of new personnel. In addition, the assistant’s travel costs if the work requires travelling because of the disabled person’s work or hobbies.

According to the National Collective Agreement regarding personal assistants (Heta - Henkilökohtaisten Avustajien Työnantajien Liitto ry), the wages in 2016 are:

  • weekdays, hours 06:00–18:00, €10.52/h
  • weekdays evening work, hours 18:00–23:00, €12.10/h
  • weekdays, hours 22:00–06:00, €13.68/h
  • Saturdays, hours 06:00–18:00, €12.62/h
  • Sundays, hours from Saturday 18.00 to Sunday evening 24:00, €21.04/h.

Roughly speaking, the wages and employer payments and compensation will be altogether 1.4 x wages (e.g. if the wages are €1,000 the whole cost will be €1,400).

Employer duties and employment conditions

Most employer duties can be managed through online services. In many online services, making the payment transfers and identification require a Finnish bank account. To date, some online services are available in English, and some only in Finnish (and Swedish).

Palkka.fi e-Service (works in Finnish and Swedish only) sends the required tax returns and notices to the Tax Administration, to pension insurers and to the Unemployment Insurance Fund. Palkka.fi also lets you print out a payslip for your employee. It will keep the data for 11 years.

Employment conditions must follow the minimum conditions given in the employment legislation. For more information, please see the translation of the National Collective Agreement regarding personal assistants for 1 February 2017–31 January 2018 for the minimum conditions for personal assistants’ employment relationships. The Collective Agreement for 1 February 2017–31 January 2018 in English.

Useful links

Finnish Legislation