Sky-high cost of pension and welfare payments / News / The Foreigner

Sky-high cost of pension and welfare payments. Government tries to find solutions. The escalating cost of pensions and long-term benefit payments is proving to be the most expensive item for the government in this year’s budget. Whilst Jens Stoltenberg thinks the first is positive, the second is a financial headache. The debate as to how to turn it around has begun.Facts Over 600,000 Norwegians of eligible working age live on benefit payments from the state for medical reasons or because they are out of a job.

long-term, sickleave, absence, illness, work, benefit, payments, welfare, state, problem, costs, headache, norway, norwegian, helga, pedersen, jens, stoltenberg, ap, labour, party



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Sky-high cost of pension and welfare payments

Published on Tuesday, 20th October, 2009 at 10:05 under the news category, by Michael Sandelson   .

Government tries to find solutions.

Young woman with head pain
Young woman with head pain
Photo: Giuseppe_R/Shutterstock Images


The escalating cost of pensions and long-term benefit payments is proving to be the most expensive item for the government in this year’s budget. Whilst Jens Stoltenberg thinks the first is positive, the second is a financial headache. The debate as to how to turn it around has begun.

Facts

Over 600,000 Norwegians of eligible working age live on benefit payments from the state for medical reasons or because they are out of a job.

People who are off work for over six months account for more than half the national total of sick days, with the amount of long-term illness having risen over time. And it’s still rising.

A cushy life

So is working Norway becoming more ill? Even Bolstad, the managing director of HR Norway – a membership organisation for HR and management personnel – doesn’t think so.

Despite an OECD report showing that Norway has the highest rate of job-related illness in the world, surveys conducted by HR Norway and the Danish organisation Ennova show that Norwegians come second in the world-rankings of who enjoys their job the most.

Whilst the Conservative politician Bent Høie believes the benefits system gives us a society which focuses on illness instead of showing people what they can do to keep well, Jan-Erik Støstad – the State Secretary for Labour and Pensions – thinks prolonged sick leave is a problem.

“We know that long-term sick leave often leads to disability benefit. It’s a disadvantage to the individual’s quality of life, and has huge economic ramifications both for the one affected and society,” he tells Stavanger Aftenblad.

A nation of freeloaders?

Or perhaps it’s the politicians who are responsible for the paltry state of the Norwegian work ethic instead? In her commentary on Saturday, Marie Simonsen – Dagbladet’s political editor – takes the gloves off, adopting a tongue in cheek approach.

“When Helga Pedersen (Deputy and Parliamentary Leader of the Labour Party (Ap)) dishes out cast-iron terms such as “brutalising working life”, or “toilers”, it rings hollow. What brutalising is she talking about? We have never worked less and had more rights, laws and rules than now. And who are the toilers? Can you differentiate between the needy worthy and unworthy?

Solutions

But whoever or whatever is “responsible” for the escalating costs, one thing is clear. Payments due to illness-related absence from work place a strain on the welfare state.

Whilst Støstad is cautious in apportioning blame – underlining that our current understanding of the reasons behind high amount of sick-leave is not sufficient – Jens Stoltenberg warned that new measures will be considered to get the level and costs down earlier last week.



Published on Tuesday, 20th October, 2009 at 10:05 under the news category, by Michael Sandelson   .

This post has the following tags: long-term, sickleave, absence, illness, work, benefit, payments, welfare, state, problem, costs, headache, norway, norwegian, helga, pedersen, jens, stoltenberg, ap, labour, party.





  
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