Workers with a minor handicap are losing their jobs in large numbers, according to a survey by the labour research foundation. Of the thousands of people officially classified as 35% unfit to work, almost two-thirds have been sacked by the time their two-year period of sick pay is up, the organisation says.
But when new incapacity benefit rules were introduced last year, employers agreed to keep on people with a minor handicap. Under the new system, workers whose disability is less than 35% are no longer entitled to incapacity benefit (WIA).
On Monday René Paas, chairman of the CNV trade union federation, accused employers of not doing enough to keep semi-fit staff in suitable jobs. He claimed over half of those sacked wanted to work. It is a ‘social scandal’ that employers moan about not being able to fill vacancies while there are almost one million people looking for work, he said.
However, employers’ organisation VNO-NCW told news agency ANP that the situation is complicated when it comes to employing partially disabled staff: ‘Small firms in particular find it hard to come up with more suitable work’.
The Netherlands has struggled for years with reforming its incapacity benefit system. By the mid-1990s, around one million people were claiming WAO benefits. Last year, this was replaced by the WIA which includes tougher health checks for would-be claimants.
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