Privatization of the absenteeism scheme: Experiences from the Netherlands

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Hassink, Wolter and Julia van den Bemd




Frisch Rapport
Nummer i serie: 2

Sammendrag (engelsk)

High sickness absenteeism and its high spending on disability benefits are major problems for Norway. This report shows how the Netherlands have addressed a problem in the past which is similar to the Norwegian problem. In 1980 the Netherlands experienced a peak in their sickness absenteeism rate of as much as 10%. These developments are likely to be related to the provision of disability benefits by the government. From 1994 until 1996, the law that regulated sickness absenteeism was privatized in a stepwise manner; the financial responsibility for sick employees was moved from the government to the employers. In 2002 a law was introduced that would stimulate sick people getting back to work. This Gatekeeper Improvement Act obliged employees and employers to actively work together in designing and executing a reintegration plan for the sick employee. With the privatization there was also the option for employers to insure themselves against this new-born risk. After the partial privatization in 1994 less than 10% of the employers insured themselves against this risk, compared to 80% after the full privatization in 1996. Without any further refinements of the privatization some groups would end up in a difficult position because they had no employer to reckon on. For these people the government retained their financial responsibility in case of sickness. Employers went along with these measures without too much fuss since they realized they could actually earn money by lowering their sickness absenteeism rate, and this they learnt step by step, as the measures were taken step by step.


Absenteeism, disability, reintegration, privatization

Prosjekt info:

Oppdragsgiver: Norges forskningsråd
Oppdragsgivers prosjektnr.: 187924
Frisch prosjekt: 4132 - Sykefravær i Norge - Årsaker, konsekvenser og politikkimplikasjoner