Suggestions by the economic affairs ministry’s top civil servant that people who lose their jobs should get unemployment benefit for a shorter period are ‘too simplistic’ to keep older people at work, the two main government parties said in Trouw on Friday.
Writing in the economists’ magazine ESB, Chris Buijink said a reduction in the length of time income-related jobless benefit (WW) is paid would be an important stimulus to find new work, particularly among older workers.
Unemployment benefit is currently paid for too long and is often used by older workers who lose their jobs as a bridge towards a pension, Buijink said.
But Christian Democrat spokesman Eddy van Hijum and Labour’s Roos Vermeij told Trouw it was too simplistic to say older workers would be encouraged to stay in work if their benefit rights were cut.
They said instead efforts need to be made to change the working culture and employers must be encouraged to invest in their older staff. Only some 26% of the over 60s are still in work.
And they pointed out that people who have claimed WW for over a year can be required by law to accept any job, even if it is well below their educational level.
A spokesman for the FNV trade union federation told the Financieele Dagblad that the benefit’s duration had already been reduced from a maximum five years.
‘It is scandalous that Buijink describes unemployment benefit as an attractive escape route for older workers,’ Leo Hartveld told the paper. ‘You don’t choose to get benefit. You end up claiming it when you are organised out of your job.’
Jobless benefit was reduced from five years to a maximum three years two months in 2005. Claimants are entitled to 75% of their last earned salary with a maximum of €185.46 a day for two months. The benefit is then cut to 70%. How long they can claim WW depends on how long they have worked.