Reinfeldt: let early-retired work slowly

Sweden's Moderate Party leader Fredrik Reinfeldt has said he wants the state to make it possible for people who have retired early on health grounds the chance to come back to work, but work at a slower pace.

“This would give them a chance to come back to work at a pace they can manage,” Reinfeldt told journalists on his bus tour of Sweden.

The Moderate Party leader is expected to be the Alliance’s candidate for prime minister if they beat the ruling red-green coalition in this month’s election.

He pointed to figures that show that half of people on state-funded early retirement believe that they have the ability to work, at least a bit.

Reinfeldt wants to make it possible for them to work full time, but to take it a bit easier as they do so.

“They would get to keep half their benefits and get a half salary,” he says.

“This would mean a major improvement for that person’s finances as they would be able to take advantage of our tax deduction for workers, at the same time as they work at their own pace,” he said, adding that there would even be lower costs for employers.

The Moderates have not given a full account of how much the proposal would cost, but say that both employees and employers will benefit.

They also emphasise that people receiving benefits and working will have to continue to go to health assessments to retain their benefits. Economists at Moderate headquarters say there will be a clear financial benefit for people to go back to a full-time job.

Reinfeldt said he had not yet got the support of the other Alliance parties for the proposal.

“But I see that as a natural next step,” he said.

He supported the proposal by producing a report commissioned by the party from polling firm Synovate Temo.

Of the 3,032 people interviewed between 19th June and 30th August, 744 were not working or under-employed. This included people who were unemployed, on government labour programmes, were studying but would prefer to have a job, were working part time but wanted to work full time or who had retired early on health grounds. The group accounts for 25 percent of the working-age population.

Of those who were early-retired, 27 percent said that they were able to work without problems, while 26 percent said they could work a bit.

The Moderates argue that far too many people have been shunted into early retirement due to government employment policies.

The survey shows that 75 percent of those people not working or underemployed think that the government hasn’t done enough, and seven out of ten think that the government doesn’t take unemployment seriously enough.

James Savage/TT