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Frequently asked questions concerning the coronavirus pandemic

Wear a face mask in social and health care services

We recommend that everyone who is 12 years old or older uses a face mask in all social and health care facilities.

Read more here: Coronavirus updates from Helsinki


Can I require my personal assistant to get a COVID-19 vaccine?

The Communicable Diseases Act has been temporarily amended to include a new Section 48 a covering, among other things, COVID-19 vaccines. The amendment is valid from 1 January 2022 to 31 December 2022. The amendment also applies to the personal assistance service.

As a rule, a personal assistant assisting in close contact a disabled person at risk of severe coronavirus disease must have either:
– COVID-19 vaccination protection, or
– protection against COVID-19 from having recovered from the disease no more than 6 months ago and the infection was confirmed with an official laboratory test.
An employer must have a special reason for using an assistant who does not fulfil these requirements.

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Read frequently asked questions concerning the coronavirus pandemic and personal assistance here.

How can personal assistants protect themselves when assisting a severely disabled person?

The personal assistance employer is responsible for ensuring occupational safety and must provide personal assistants with protective equipment.

You can protect yourself against COVID-19 the same way as against any other respiratory tract infection. (In accordance with the instructions of the Finnish Institute of Occupational Health, a disposable surgical mask, face mask or visor that covers the face must be worn in assistance situations.) You can find detailed instructions on how to use the protective equipment on the website for Finnish Institute of Occupational Health.

How and from where can I get protective equipment?

The personal assistance employer can purchase protective equipment for their assistants in shops or order them online.

If the employing customer has been diagnosed with coronavirus or has symptoms indicative of COVID-19, Helsinki Disability Services can provide protective equipment to enable the work of personal assistants, if necessary. Such protective equipment include disposable gloves, respiratory protection, eye protection and medical gowns. This equipment will be used according to the instruction provided by the work health care and the Finnish Institute of Occupational Health. The equipment is only handed over for the use of assistants of the customers of Helsinki Disability Service’s personal assistant employer model. The customer can contact the Paula home:

  • Paula home, address Laajasuontie 33 A 15, 00320 Helsinki. The equipment is handed over at the front door. The person picking up the equipment is not allowed to enter the unit. Please call 09 310 24812 or 09 310 24814 to schedule the pick-up, calls are answered 24/7.

    Companies providing personal assistance with service vouchers manage the procurement of protective equipment for their own employees themselves.

    Will the costs of purchasing protective equipment be reimbursed?

    Reasonable and necessary costs of protective equipment for personal assistants purchased by the disabled employer may be reimbursed retrospectively against receipts. Send a free-form application to the Helsinki Disability Services’ social worker in your area, with your account number clearly indicated and enclose either the original purchase receipt for the protective equipment or a copy of it. As a rule, the reimbursement covers face masks.

    Does the assistant need to provide a sick leave certificate?

    Assistants must always present their employer with a doctor’s certificate for incapacity to work lasting more than three days, which the employer will then submit to the payroll office. In the case of sick leave lasting more than nine days, the original doctor’s certificate is sent to Kela as an attachment to the sickness allowance application. In this case, either the employer or the personal assistant will submit a sickness allowance application to Kela.

    The City of Helsinki does during the coronavirus pandemic not require that a health care certificate regarding the assistant’s sick leave is delivered when the symptoms that the assistant have are indicative of a coronavirus infection. The assistant can inform the employer about the illness with their own announcement. The employer will inform the Financial Management Services or the salary payment program SuoraTyö about the sick leave as usual. These instructions are valid temporarily and we will separately inform about any changes.

    The employer is however entitled to receive a certificate of incapacity to work issued by a doctor or a nurse from the first day of sickness.

    How will assistants be paid when they or their child is ill, suspected to be ill or in quarantine?

    If an employee has been ordered to be absent from work due to illness or suspected illness, they will be paid similarly as during sick leave. Personal assistants of employers who are members of Heta – Union of the Employers of Personal Assistants in Finland have the right to stay at home to look after a child under the age of 10 or a disabled child due to their sudden illness. Such paid absences may last up to three working days. Personal assistants of employers who are not members of Heta are not entitled to pay while taking care of a sick child at home.

    Kela pays communicable disease allowance when an employee has been ordered to quarantine (Communicable Diseases Act 60, Section 60) in order to prevent the spread of COVID-19. The guardian of a child under the age of 16 is entitled to communicable disease allowance if the child has been quarantined and the guardian is therefore unable to work. More information on the communicable disease allowance is available on the Kela website (kela.fi).

    How do I report my personal assistant’s quarantine period and how will their salary be paid during the quarantine period?

    If your personal assistant is quarantined due to COVID-19 exposure, submit a certificate of their quarantine period issued by an infectious disease physician to the payroll office. In addition, the payroll office will need information on the shifts planned for the quarantine period.

    If you do not use the Oima payroll system’s input option, you can submit information on your assistant’s quarantine period using the “interruption of employment relationship or other changes” form. You can use the shift roster to indicate the shifts planned for the quarantine period.

    Alternatively, you can also enter the shifts to the Oima payroll system yourself. In this case, the quarantine period must be entered in the calendar view of the Oima system with the entry type “Absence - other reason (unpaid)”. The quarantine period must be recorded as a continuous period, in accordance with the quarantine period issued by the infectious disease physician.

    The payroll secretary will fill in the Kela Y17 form on loss of income during the quarantine period in accordance with the reported shifts during the quarantine period and submit it to Kela electronically. In addition to this, the personal assistant should submit to Kela an application for communicable disease allowance for the duration of the quarantine period. The loss of income during the quarantine period will be paid to the personal assistant as Kela’s communicable disease allowance.

    What to do when the employer lives in a service housing unit and the entire unit is quarantined?

    No outsiders are allowed into the unit.

    Will the personal assistant be paid even if they are unable to do their job?

    According to the Employment Contracts Act, in such a situation, the employee must be paid full salary as the employee has been at the employer’s disposal in accordance with their agreement, but has not been able to work the agreed shifts for reasons attributable to the employer. In this case, the employer should also lay off the employee, if necessary.

    What should we do with the personal assistant if someone in the employer’s family is diagnosed with COVID-19?

    Individuals infected with COVID-19 may be ordered to isolate by an infectious diseases physician and their close contacts may be quarantined. In these situations, the instructions issued by health care personnel are also applied to personal assistants.

    The personal assistant reports to the employer that the assistant may have been exposed to COVID-19. The assistant has no symptoms.

    The employer cancels the work shift. Will the assistant get paid for the shift?

    If the employer asks the assistant not to come to the workplace, and an infectious disease physician has not issued an isolation or quarantine decision for the assistant, the assistant will be paid normally. Leave days can be used in such situations, but only if the employee consents to this.

    If my assistant falls ill, where can I get a substitute?

    You can contact the assistant centre Sentteri, and ask for an assistant according to the employer model, tel. 045 7732 4381. You can also contact Sentteri by sending e-mail to: sentteri@sentteri.fi. If you have a service voucher decision for the use of a substitute assistant, you can get a substitute using the service voucher. If you have no service voucher decision, you can apply for the right from your social worker.

    Can a relative act as a personal assistant?

    Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, in Helsinki, a relative of an employer whose personal assistance is organised according to the employer model has been able to act as a personal assistant if an assistant has not been otherwise available.

    As the vaccination coverage has increased, this special arrangement is no longer valid as of 1 October 2021.

    The assistant is ill, and the time sheets are due today. Without the assistant, the employer is unable to fill in, print out and sign the time sheets. The employee does not want to risk exposing the employer, but needs to be paid. Will time sheets only signed by the employee be accepted in this case?

    If the employer is not able to confirm the time sheets via e-mail, the sheets signed by the employee will be accepted. The employer will be asked to confirm the time sheets over the telephone before the salary is paid.

    Can an employer oblige an employee to be tested for COVID-19?

    An employer cannot require an employee to be tested for COVID-19. Testing is always voluntary.
    However, the employer is obliged to take care of the safety of all employees. An employer has the right to temporarily ask an employee not to come to the workplace if the employee refuses to be tested for COVID-19 and the employer has reasonable grounds to suspect that the employee may have contracted COVID-19. In this situation, the employer has the right to hire another assistant.

    Can I require my personal assistant to get a COVID-19 vaccine?

    Health authorities recommend the COVID-19 vaccine. Getting the vaccine protects not only the employee, but also those close to them, their colleagues and the persons they assist. In the past, getting vaccines has always been voluntary for assistants.

  • However, the Communicable Diseases Act has now been temporarily amended to include a new Section 48 a covering, among other things, COVID-19 vaccines. The amendment is valid from 1 January 2022 to 31 December 2022. The amendment also applies to the personal assistance service.

    As a rule, a personal assistant assisting in close contact a disabled person at risk of severe coronavirus disease must have either:
    – COVID-19 vaccination protection, or
    – protection against COVID-19 from having recovered from the disease no more than 6 months ago and the infection was confirmed with an official laboratory test.

    More information about the Communicable Diseases Act and protection against COVID-19 on the website of Finnish institute for health and welfare (in Finnish)

    An employer must have a special reason for using an assistant who does not fulfil these requirements.

    In future, a personal assistant (or those applying for personal assistance work) must provide an account of their protection against COVID-19 to their disabled employer who is at risk of severe illness. The employer may request written accounts regarding vaccination and/or recovery from the illness from their assistant.  If the employee does not have protection against COVID-19 as described above, the situation may result in discontinuing salary payment.

    More detailed information on the procedures related to the amendment can be found, for example, on the website of Heta (in Finnish) – Union of the Employers of Personal Assistants in Finland.

    Service voucher companies offering personal assistance will ensure their own employees’ protection against COVID-19. In such case, it is necessary for the assisted person to submit to the service provider an account establishing whether they are at risk of severe coronavirus disease.

    Is my assistant allowed to get a COVID-19 vaccine during working hours?

    Based on Section 45 of the Communicable Diseases Act, an employee is allowed to get a COVID-19 vaccine during working hours, if it is not possible at other times. In other words, if it is not possible to book an appointment for a COVID-19 vaccination outside of working hours, the employee may go get the vaccine during working hours, and the time it takes to get the vaccine will be counted as working hours.




    19.04.2022 12:17