Users say – Kela: the more accurately data is submitted, the readier it is for use

12/1/2021

One of the largest users of the Incomes Register’s data is the Social Insurance Institution of Finland (Kela), which sees to the social security of people living in Finland during different life situations.

At Kela, the Incomes Register’s data is used whenever a customer’s annual income needs to be estimated. Data is needed for solutions related to social assistance, unemployment benefits and housing allowances, to name a few.

–  When we have access to an accurate accrual of wages in the Incomes Register over a longer period, we can make more accurate income estimates. This has a positive impact on the quality of decisions, which benefits our customers and society at large, says Timo Lundén, Head of the Centre for Pensions, Family Benefits and Student Financial Aid at Kela.

As a result of the data accessible in the Incomes Register, Kela does not need to as frequently request further information from employers or customers. For example, the number of scanned income reports has halved at Kela, and the number of letters sent to employers has decreased by 66 per cent from 2018.

However, the need for additional clarifications has not gone away completely. Lundén points out that mandatory data alone is rarely sufficient when processing benefits.

– From our point of view, the biggest thing is that employers also report voluntary data. By reporting absences, employment relationship data and earnings periods, employers need to be contacted much less.

The deployment of the Incomes Register has been a major investment

For Kela, the Incomes Register has enabled a much better access to income data and eliminated two-way data flows between Kela and the enforcement authority, for example. According to Lundén, Kela regards the Incomes Register as a productive tool that improves the level of quality and offers a whole range of benefits.

– Thinking about employees who make decisions every day, the decision making process has become slightly quicker in many cases, as it is no longer necessary to wait for payslips. It is also easier to make interpretations because data is immediately in usable format.

– I would say that the customer experience has also improved, as fewer contacts and additional clarifications are needed. This can be seen concretely in housing allowances and social assistance, for example, because we can resolve customer cases more quickly.

More effective monitoring using alerts

Kela has built various alerts in the benefits system on the basis of data obtained from the Incomes Register to monitor any changes in income data.

– The sooner we know that income has changed, the earlier we can react to it. As a result, we can shorten the time when a benefit or a recovered amount is in payment incorrectly or unnecessarily.

Real-time data has given Kela more work, but also improved opportunities to react to any misuse more quickly.

– The more quickly and accurately we obtain income data, the better we can assess whether any fraudulent activities have taken place. Everything must go by the book, Lundén says. 

Dreaming of extensive reporting of data

Kela is in favour of making certain earnings payment data mandatory. When data about employment relationships, absences and earnings periods are reported, Kela requires fewer additional clarifications, which in turn means that employers need to be contacted less.

– The more accurately data is submitted, the readier it is for use here without any additional clarifications. What is more, the more data is mandatory, the more accurately data is usually entered, Lundén says.

Daily allowance applications offer unused potential in the Incomes Register

Through the Incomes Register, employers can apply for sickness, maternity, paternity, parental and special allowances, family leave compensation and rehabilitation allowances from Kela if their payroll software enables these applications. Last year, Kela received only two per cent of all employer applications through this channel.

– In 2019, the corresponding figure was one per cent, so we are moving in the right direction. It would be great if large companies sent their daily allowance applications more actively through the Incomes Register, Lundén says.

In the Users say series, organisations that use the Incomes Register’s data talk about the benefits and challenges of the use of data from their own perspectives.

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