As an artist, you may be required to take out pension insurance for entrepreneurs if you work as a professional artist and your work meets the conditions defined in the Entrepreneurs Pensions Act. If you take out YEL insurance, you will accrue earnings-related pension, and it will have an impact on your social security.

To qualify for an entrepreneurs’ pension, you do not have to set up your own company, register as a sole trader or get your own business ID. Instead, you can be considered to work as an entrepreneur under the Entrepreneurs Pensions Act if you carry out an independent economic activity for the purpose of profit. For example, freelance artists can fall under this category. Artists who are required to take out pension insurance for entrepreneurs are considered entrepreneurs in terms of unemployment security.

Artists are responsible for taking out their own pension insurance for entrepreneurs. You must take out a pension insurance for entrepreneurs if:

  1. you have worked as an entrepreneur for more than four months,
  2. your labour income* is more than EUR 8063.57 p.a. (in 2021) and this economic activity does not entitle you to pensions under other pensions acts,
  3. you are 18–68 years old.

Those working as entrepreneurs in a secondary capacity must also take out pension insurance for entrepreneurs if they meet the above criteria. You must take out pension insurance for entrepreneurs at the latest within six months of the date your economic activity meets the above criteria. Voluntary pension insurance does not replace statutory pension insurance.

The Finnish Centre for Pensions oversees the pension contributions of entrepreneurs, and it may consider an artist to be an entrepreneur even if the artist him- or herself does not or has not made pension contributions. For example, the tax authority may report an artist’s economic activity to the Finnish Centre for Pensions if the tax return shows that the artist’s income from working as an artist exceeds the limits set for entrepreneurs. In a situation like this, the artist may have to retrospectively take out pension insurance for entrepreneurs, make pension contributions and pay interest on late payments.

Labour income under the Entrepreneurs Pensions Act (YEL labour income)

Determining the amount of labour income under the Entrepreneurs Pensions Act is central to the entrepreneurs’ pension insurance. Determining the amount of YEL labour income is important, as it determines the entrepreneurs’ pension insurance contributions and, later, the amount of pension, as well several benefits influencing an entrepreneur’s social security, such as parental and sickness allowance and earnings-related unemployment allowance. In other words, the amount of social security benefits is determined based on YEL labour income rather than actual income.

YEL labour income is the value of your contribution to your own company, which means that it does not refer to your actual income or taxable income. YEL labour income refers to an amount that could reasonably be paid as a salary to someone else doing the same job over the course of one year.

Even though the labour income reported as the basis for the payment of the entrepreneurs’ pension is always determined on an annual basis, the amount of labour income can be changed during the year though not retrospectively. As such, it is recommended that you pay close attention to the amount of labour income when taking out pension insurance for entrepreneurs.

Note: The amount of labour income must be at least EUR 13,247 (in 2021) for an artist to join a fund for entrepreneurs and be entitled to the basic unemployment allowance paid by Kela. You do not meet the work requirement for self-employed persons for any period of time your YEL labour income falls below the limit of EUR 13,247.

In 2021, the YEL pension contributions are

  • 24.1% of confirmed YEL labour income (18–52-year-olds)
  • 25.6% of confirmed YEL labour income (53–62-year-olds)
  • 24.1% of confirmed YEL labour income (63–68-year-olds)

Entrepreneurs who are only starting out are entitled to discounted pension contributions for a total of four years. In 2021, the discounted rate for new entrepreneurs is 22%.

You can claim tax relief for pension contributions. The pension insurance contribution is either paid by the artist or his or her company, and the payer can claim tax relief for such payments in full. The artist’s partner can also claim tax relief.

In addition to taking care of his or her own pension provision, an artist may have to arrange pension provision for other persons. For example, if you manage production and hire persons to work on the production, you must take care of their pension provisions. This is because you are considered an employer in this situation, which means that you are responsible for arranging pension provisions for the persons working for you.

Determining labour income of visual artists for YEL contributions

The Finnish Centre for Pensions publishes an annual guide on labour income for entrepreneurs, in which it provides instructions for determining an entrepreneur’s YEL labour income. In addition to general instructions, the guide contains industry-specific instructions for determining labour income in different sectors.

The Finnish Centre for Pensions has published two tables as instructions for determining labour income for visual artists. One of the tables applies to all visual artists, while the other is intended for sculptors.

The labour income guide for entrepreneurs is one of the most important tools for determining accurate and sufficient YEL income. You can refer to the tables in the guide when negotiating with a welfare institution on your entrepreneurs’ pension contributions and the YEL labour income on which they are based.

The labour income on which a visual artist’s entrepreneurs’ pension contributions are based is determined in accordance with the labour income guide of the Finnish Centre for Pensions based on the artist’s annual sales, as follows:

Annual sales, EUR p.a.       Entrepreneur’s labour income, EUR p.a.

               – 11,400                              – 7900
11,400 – 22,900                 7900 – 10,400
22,900 – 34,300                10,400 – 12,500
34,300 – 44,700                12,500 – 15,600
44,700 –                            15,600 –

Annual sales refers to sales minus the expenses of working as an artist. If an artist is registered for VAT, annual sales refers to annual sales without VAT minus the expenses of working as an artist excluding VAT.

There is significant variation in the business expenses of visual artists. Extra attention should therefore be paid to the taxation of business expenses when determining the labour income for YEL pension insurance. A sculptor working on a large sculpture, for example, may purchase services, such as casting and stonemasonry, which are included in the facility and material expenses.

The sales income of visual artists may vary significantly. It is also common for a person working as an independent visual artist to be employed on the side too, for example as an art teacher. In a situation like this, the visual artist’s job as an entrepreneur can be considered secondary in the context of the Entrepreneurs Pensions Act.

Since 2009, income from grants awarded under MYEL has also influenced the amount of social security benefits paid to artists in addition to the YEL income.

Starting from early 2009, any grants exceeding the minimum threshold (EUR 3980.13 awarded to support working for at least four months, 2020) are governed by the Farmers Pensions Act, or MYEL, meaning that they are not considered when determining YEL labour income. Grants awarded by the government before 2009 for five or more years, which are still being paid, are also part of a separate national pension provision, meaning that they are not taken into consideration in the determination of YEL labour income.


Labour income guide for entrepreneurs by the Finnish Centre for Pensions (in Finnish)