12.4.2022 11:07
Press release

Our action on behalf of entrepreneurs in 2021

Direct support for sole entrepreneurs and employers during Covid

In 2021, the state helped small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) survive through four rounds of Business Cost Support. Suomen Yrittäjät made an impact on the criteria for each kind of support and participated in developing each round.

Our proposal for supporting single-person businesses was implemented. This meant single-person businesses received at least €2,000 in support, even if the criteria for support would have led to them receiving less than that.

Following our proposal, a special compensation system was created for businesses that were forced to close their premises by law or official order due to the Covid pandemic. The system was first and foremost built to help small businesses. In the final phase, following our proposal, Parliament amended the legislation to remove the fourteen-day waiting period, which could have led to unreasonable situations.

As summer approached, an Event Guarantee was set up to partially secure summer events. We demanded and achieved an extension of the Guarantee to the event organizers’ subcontractors.

Availability of finance secured

The SME barometer shows that we succeeded in securing SMEs’ access to finance during the pandemic. For example, we maintained the availability of finance to SMEs by cooperating closely with funders, guarantors and regulators.

Entrepreneurs’ labour market support extended

The labour market support for entrepreneurs was a result of advocacy by Suomen Yrittäjät. Suomen Yrittäjät has proposed extending the support as the pandemic continues. For the moment, the benefit has been wound down.

Covid passport as an alternative to restrictions

In 2021, we strongly objected to the government’s plans for a curfew. A prohibition on patronizing businesses would have meant restrictions on freedom of livelihood.

We proposed the Covid passport as an alternative to restrictions.

Eased Payment Arrangement 2

Because of the prolonged Covid situation, we demanded that the Tax Administration reintroduce eased payment arrangement terms and that Parliament temporarily reduce the level of interest on taxes included in eased payment arrangements from 7% to 2.5%. The second round of eased payment arrangements was made available in the summer of 2021. Our proposals were implemented.

Help for business owners in the greatest difficulty

As we had proposed, insolvency legislation was amended because of the pandemic.

The Bankruptcy Act was temporarily amended to prevent creditors from seeking liquidation of a business because of short delays in payment.

The Debt Recovery Act was temporarily amended to reduce fees charged to businesses in debt and to limit opportunities to serve corporate debt collection threat (“tratta”) notices.

Businesses in debt recovery received easements if they were less able to pay for pandemic-related reasons.

Businesses compensated for PPE costs

As a result of extended advocacy, the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health recommended that health care and social service authorities compensate contractors in the sector for the costs they incurred when purchasing personal protective equipment (PPE). The municipalities and hospital districts compensated their contractors for additional costs due to increased purchases of supplies such as masks and hand sanitizer.

Non-coronavirus issues: legislative improvements to benefit entrepreneurs every day

Reduced debt recovery fees

The government has proposed significant reductions in recovery fees charged to businesses in debt. The proposal would see caps in euros set on the fees. By our conservative estimate, the reform will bring relief to 30,000–45,000 businesses and business owners annually. The amendment will start going through Parliament in the first half of 2022. 

More rational corporate debt collection threats

Our advocacy meant changes were proposed to how corporate debt collection threats (“tratta”) are used. The proposal is to give businesses in debt more time before the “tratta” is protested, i.e. published in the newspapers.

Shorter retention periods for payment default entries

Suomen Yrittäjät has advocated strongly for more rational regulation in this area. A proposal is currently going through Parliament to allow debtors to clear their payment default entries by paying off the related debts. 

Payment terms between businesses

By law, the payment term between businesses cannot be more than 30 days unless the businesses have explicitly agreed to a longer term than that. Large companies, in particular, break the law and unilaterally dictate terms which are advantageous to themselves to the detriment of their SME trading partners. Suomen Yrittäjät has kept this issue firmly in the public domain. We have also lobbied the Ministry of Justice to investigate legislative amendments in this area. We help our member businesses by negotiating with large companies that dictate long payment terms to resolve their situations.

Sole traders able to enter debt restructuring without winding down their businesses

In future, sole traders in payment difficulties will be able to enter debt restructuring without winding down their businesses.

Suomen Yrittäjät has advocated to ensure that in future almost all sole traders who meet the legislative criteria will be able to enter debt restructuring, regardless of how large their operations are or whether they employ up to two employees.

Faster debt restructuring for business owners who have gone through liquidation

Following a proposal from Suomen Yrittäjät, in future former business owners will have easier and faster access to private persons’ debt restructuring.

Efforts to finally ease access to business restructuring

Sole traders can apply for sole trader’s debt restructuring, but the only option for the likes of smaller limited companies is to apply for expensive business restructuring.

Advocacy by Suomen Yrittäjät has resulted in the government seeking solutions to this problem. The goal is to guarantee smaller companies a reasonably priced restructuring procedure in future.         

We helped scam victims

For many years, Suomen Yrittäjät has educated member businesses about scams and helped its members who have fallen prey to them. In addition, we have spoken about the issue in the public sphere and in crime prevention working groups.

Better regulation that is less costly for businesses

We have advocated to ensure lighter business regulation, both national and European. Finnish ministries and the European Commission have started using a tool intended to reduce costs borne by businesses due to regulation. Suomen Yrittäjät was one of the advocates for this tool.

Small businesses exempted from burdensome labelling obligations

In future, only companies producing consumer packaging with an annual turnover of more than one million euros will have to meet the producer responsibility labelling obligations.

The Ministry of the Environment had already planned to extend the same obligations to businesses of all sizes. If the proposal had gone through, by conservative estimates it would have generated costs and an administrative burden for 20,000 businesses.

Better opportunities for business owners to take family leave and easier hiring of seasonal workers

Easier hiring of foreign seasonal workers

The EU regulations on seasonal labour from outside the Union has now been amended to lighten the administrative load on employers. An employer can supply all the information regarding seasonal workers to the authorities using a single form. Submitting a form for each individual worker is no longer required. In addition, a seasonal worker does not need to present all the same documents again if he or she has already worked for the same employer as a seasonal worker.

Improved opportunities for business owners to take family leave

Following lobbying by Suomen Yrittäjät, a business owner may in future continue to claim parental allowance flexibly in the way he or she chooses until the child turns two. The parent can also start receiving the allowance 14 working days before the child’s due date.

The flexibilities make it even easier for business owners to take family leave and achieve a work-life balance. A business owner receives the right to child home care allowance after 160 weekdays have passed since the birth of his or her baby. This makes using these flexibilities easier. The changes come into force on 1 August 2022.

Reinforcements for Finnish ownership

Several Suomen Yrittäjät proposals were included in the Finnish ownership programme, led by former prime minister Juha Sipilä. The proposals speed up transfers of business ownership and enable ongoing funding to support ownership transfer counselling.

Tax credit for household expenses increased, cultural benefit expanded

Increased tax credit for household expenses

The tax credit for households replacing oil furnaces in their homes between 2022 and 2027 is increasing from €2,250 to €3,500, with 60% of labour costs households pay to businesses eligible for the credit rather than the current 40%. For wages paid by households in this case, 30% will be eligible for the tax credit compared to the present 15%.

R&D tax incentive tripled

Suomen Yrittäjät has proposed a permanent research and development (R&D) tax incentive model which would encourage businesses of all sizes to increase their investments in both internal R&D as well as R&D services acquired from R&D organizations.

The current tax deduction of 50% to encourage R&D activities is being tripled to 150% between 2022 and 2027. Businesses conducting R&D of their own operations or agriculture are entitled to the deduction, and the additional deduction is available when a business conducts R&D with a research organization. 

Expanded opportunities for using cultural benefit

As virtual events became more widespread, we advocated to ensure that sporting and cultural fairs would be included in the cultural benefit. We also proposed expanding the concept of cultural activities, and the government’s budget session decided to investigate expanding the use of cultural and sport vouchers to other hobbies and recreation.

Introduction of economic employer status delayed

The introduction of the status of economic employer is a significant change. We have lobbied to ensure that the regulation on this status has been delayed until the start of 2023.

The economic employer status means that for tax law and tax treaty purposes, the employer is considered the organization under whose leadership and supervision the work is actually done, even if a foreign worker is not employed by the economic employer.

Strong EU advocacy: Chairperson Salminen elected to presidency of SMEunited

The chairperson of Suomen Yrittäjät, Petri Salminen, was elected president of the European SME umbrella organization SMEunited in December.

Strong advocacy through our Brussels office

With SMEunited, Suomen Yrittäjät made an impact on the energy and climate package, the Pay Transparency Directive and the Digital Services Act. The advocacy has resulted in less burdensome red tape, such as in businesses’ reporting obligations.

When the EU recovery package was being prepared, the goal was for national recovery programmes to truly transform Europeans’ finances and give SMEs a genuine role in implementing the recovery package. The Commission took giving that role to SMEs seriously. It is now drafting a report on SMEs’ role in recovery programmes.

Suomen Yrittäjät promoted access to capital for SMEs recovering from the pandemic. Amendments to the Markets in Financial Instruments Directive were approved to ease businesses’ recovery from the crisis. The amendments increase SMEs’ visibility to investors.

The concern of Suomen Yrittäjät about excessively long payment terms has been noted in the EU. In 2021, the Commission prepared measures to tackle long payment terms in the EU. One concrete example of this is the EU observatory of payments in commercial transactions, which will focus on payment term monitoring.

Useful Brexit bulletins for businesses

We cooperated with the government and Finnish Customs and lobbied for training, information and advice that matched businesses’ needs.

Speaking up for competitive logistics in the EU and Finland

We have lobbied actively at the national and EU levels to prevent logistics costs from rising unreasonably due to emission reductions and fiscal pressures.

Efficient service path to international expansion

As part of the Team Finland executive group, Suomen Yrittäjät ensured that small businesses also have access to a variety of high-quality counselling, events and finance services.

New export trade training course launched

The Suomen Yrittäjät course on export trade attracted several dozen business owners with an interest in exports. Over five days, the course covered export documentation, branding, marketing, sales and finance. Participants received lessons, tips, encouragement and mentoring for starting exports. The idea for the course came from the Suomen Yrittäjät growth enterprise network.

Income caps for student support raised, business owners’ know-how kept front-of-mind

Apprenticeships developed

Our advocacy ensured the government began a pilot scheme to increase young people’s uptake of apprenticeships by increasing the compensation paid to employers.

Student support income caps raised

We proposed raising the income caps for student support. The government is now proposing temporarily raising the income caps by 25% in 2022.

Digital barometer revealed areas for improvement; government shapes up in digital matters

Suomen Yrittäjät and the Confederation of Finnish Industries proposed six measures to generate a better return for Finland on new technology and the competitiveness it provides.

Our goal of sharpening the coordination and leadership of digital policy came closer when the government established the ministerial working group on digitalization, data economy and public administration. Immediately, the group started preparing for a national digital compass, which corresponds to our goal of a national digitalization strategy.

Industrial SMEs’ competitiveness promoted

We began chairing the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment’s Artificial Intelligence 4.0 programme working group, which seeks measures for promoting the competitiveness of the industrial SME sector in a rapidly changing market.

SMEs considered whistleblowing regulation

We ensured that SMEs were taken into consideration in the regulation of the reporting of wrongdoing.

We also ensured that the obligation to establish an internal reporting channel did not extend to sole traders. This relates to the European Whistleblower Protection Directive, which includes obligations for employers. The preparations are still partially under way.

Local businesses, the lifeblood of the municipality: Present in business owner’s daily life all over Finland

Excellent result: 23% of councillors

Suomen Yrittäjät performed excellently at the local elections: 23% of councillors are business owners. 

Suomen Yrittäjät campaigned in the local elections under the slogan Local businesses, the lifeblood of the municipality. We supported candidates from all parties with an entrepreneurial background through training, visibility and materials.

Private businesses maintain place in refuse removal market

We made a significant impact to ensure that some residential refuse can continue to be removed by private businesses and on the open market. In other words, local authorities can continue to decide how mixed waste and slurry removal, as well as compost and packaging removal outside built-up areas, is done: on market terms or by a local authority.

Service vouchers to cut waiting times

We drew up a comprehensive report on how widely service vouchers are used across Finland and on what bases. The public sector agreed that the vouchers improved access to services and patients’ freedom of choice.

New training launched for municipal managers

We launched a new training programme for municipal managers which aims to promote a business-positive municipal policy and understanding of enterprise in municipal management.

Competitive tendering counselling for businesses, tendering guide for municipalities

Suomen Yrittäjät offered free competitive tendering counselling to businesses nationwide. Each region has a dedicated competitive tendering counsellor. 

Valuable counselling and training for business owners

Valuable benefits for Suomen Yrittäjät members

Suomen Yrittäjät offers its members valuable member benefits which are being constantly developed. The most popular benefit is our free legal counselling.

Hands-on training, new service of Yrittäjät Academy

Suomen Yrittäjät offers its member entrepreneurs many varied training sessions at member-only prices. They are designed to help entrepreneurs succeed in their daily work. The frequency of these sessions was increased due to Covid. A total of 13,266 business owners attended training and information sessions online. The most popular topics were financial administration and marketing.

Earlier assistance for financial difficulties

We expanded our business owners’ financial assistance service to the regional level. The service is available nationwide and it helps entrepreneurs cope with financial difficulties at an early stage. Thousands of businesses receive help from the service annually. Suomen Yrittäjät has been part of the project in cooperation with the Ministry Economic Affairs and Employment and the ELY Centre.

Suomen Yrittäjät communication helps entrepreneurs keep up to date

Business needed help almost around the clock. Yrittajat.fi/korona gathers Covid information in one place. This mini-site continues to be updated.

The Suomen Yrittäjät newsletter delivers tips and information about current legislative amendments directly to members’ inboxes.

Entrepreneurs can keep abreast of changes to legislation and other changes affecting their businesses by following communication from Suomen Yrittäjät: Yrittäjät.fi news, the Yrittäjän podcast, the Yrittäjä member magazine, newsletters and social media channels. In addition, members can subscribe to the Yrittäjä Plus magazine.

Subscribe to Yrittäjä Plus here >>

Over 100 mentors part of the mentorisi.fi service

Our mentorisi.fi member service already has 170 mentors on board. Our mentors’ coffee mornings every two months have attracted large numbers of mentors who have listened and shared their thoughts about current topics.

Find a mentor, or sign up to become one >>

Ownership transfers: awareness and practical support

This year, Suomen Yrittäjät again facilitated the ownership transfer forum, which aims to speed up mergers and acquisitions and cross-generational handovers nationwide.

In addition, Suomen Yrittäjät and its local societies in the region of Uusimaa cooperated to launch a region-wide ownership transfer promotion project. The project raises awareness among older business owners, in particular, about the need to plan for a change in ownership. The project provides counselling, webinars and training in cooperation with the public sector and commercial experts.

Information from research

We conduct many surveys throughout the year.

The responses in 2021 were dominated by the effects of the coronavirus crisis, which the Yrittäjätgallup survey followed regularly. The traditional SME barometer also charted the effects of the crisis.

In addition, to support our advocacy we conducted a broad study on how businesses would like enterprise services to be provided in future to ensure smooth access to services.

We worked with the Tax Administration and the financial administration sector to establish small businesses’ level of digitalization and needs in financial administration. This pinpointed areas for development where government agencies and the sector must engage to reduce the burden of financial administration and its obligations on small businesses.

National events reopened society

In the autumn, we managed to hold three events in the usual way. With these large events, Suomen Yrittäjät wanted to play its own role in reopening society with concrete actions:

The National Entrepreneur Days attracted 1,200 business owners and delegates interested in entrepreneurship to Jyväskylä.

The Municipal Leadership Seminar in Helsinki in October brought together over 1,000 municipal decision-makers, influencers and business owners.

The Entrepreneur Cruise in November was attended by 240 participants from all over Finland. The cruise provided guests with a new kind of networking and getting to know other business owners.