Check your salary and monitor pension accrual in the Incomes Register
Many fresh graduates and young people about to start their first summer job will enter the labour market over the course of this spring. Many of them will be unfamiliar with and unclear about matters related to salary payments, taxation and pension contributions. An employee’s pension increases with every employment relationship and every salary payment. Every employee is responsible for checking the information provided by their employer.
“Pension contributions should be paid automatically in conjunction with salary payments, but people sometimes make mistakes. Anyone entering the labour market needs to understand how important it is to check their own data. At the end of the day, only the individual in question can keep track of everywhere they have worked and how much they have earned. Check your salary data and pension record so that you can be sure you will receive a pension that corresponds to your earnings,” says Consulting Manager Marjukka Matikainen at Varma.
The Incomes Register is a new and convenient tool for monitoring the accurateness of salary data. The Incomes Register is a database designed to show all salary payments made by different employers, which is particularly helpful for people who routinely perform periodic work for different employers. Any earnings made in early 2019 should show in the Incomes Register. Varma’s pension record is based on the data available in the register.
“If the data in the Incomes Register is accurate, so is the data in the pension record,” says Matikainen.
What to do when you notice an error in your salary data?
If you notice an error in your salary data or the data does not show in the Incomes Register or pension record, it is best to contact your employer directly first thing.
“Employers from businesses of all sizes have struggled with reporting salary payments to the Incomes Register this spring. These mistakes are definitely not deliberate; it just takes a while for users to become familiar with new methods and applications,” says Legal Counsel Hanna Huhanantti at Varma.
If the matter cannot be settled with the employer, you must report the missing earnings to the tax authorities. You can also send an enquiry to your pension insurance company or the Finnish Centre for Pensions. The faster you take action, the easier it is to remedy the situation.
To check the pension provider for your workplace, log in to tyoelake.fi. However, the information should be provided on the workplace notice board or other bulletin board.
“If any of your data is missing, it is best to react immediately. Investigating matters a decade later can be difficult and the burden of proof always lies with the employee. The employee must be able to provide undisputed proof of his or her previous employment relationships, including duration and salary payments,” says Huhanantti.
In Finland, employers generally perform pension contributions correctly and any deviations are primarily due to technical or human errors. People applying for pension very rarely discover that their pension contributions have not been paid in a past employment relationship. This is partly due to the fact that Finns have received their pension record by mail at three-year intervals since 2008. Also, an increasing percentage of customers use Varma’s eServices to regularly check their pension record.
Problems occur when employers seek economic benefits
Problems arise when an employer either does not acquire earnings-related pension insurance at all or does not report all salary payments or employees to the authorities. Some employers may insist on not using a tax card when completing an employment contract. Fraud related to earnings-related pension contributions is often revealed in connection with tax inspections. The police and the Finnish Centre for Pensions will be involved at that stage.
“The problem may become apparent when a summer employee falls ill and submits a per diem allowance application to Kela, but it turns out that the employer has not reported his or her earnings accurately or has neglected to report them entirely. Employers who do not want to declare some or all of an employee’s work contribution take advantage of the worker’s lack of knowledge and weaker position. This is most typical in the restaurant, transportation and construction business. Employers might insinuate that they have no use for people who ask too many questions,” says Huhanantti.
In some cases, arrangements are made to disguise an employment relationship as self-employment so as to transfer the responsibility for any payments due to employer obligations to employees. Some employers require employees to start their own company or to submit invoices through an invoicing company like entrepreneurs.
“In one case, an employee had worked for a company on and off as a lorry driver, but the employer wanted to handle all salary payments through a salary service. If the work matches the characteristics of an employment relationship, the employee cannot be interpreted to be an entrepreneur in accordance with the principles of labour law,” says Huhanantti.
5 tips for a new employee
1. Conclude a written employment contract.
2. Read the collective agreement applicable to your field.
3. Record your working hours.
4. Check your pay slip to make sure your salary has been paid correctly. If you are unclear about anything, ask your employer. The Incomes Register collects all the salary data provided by different employers in one place.
5. If you cannot settle any differences regarding salary payments together with your employer, contact the Uusimaa Centre for Economic Development, Transport and the Environment.
Varma wishes everyone about to enter the labour market a rewarding work life!