Curbs planned on sick benefits

The government is to unveil plans to clamp down on sick benefits, with the aim of getting people off sick pay and back into work.

Curbs planned on sick benefits
Photo: Pawel Flato

Many people will find their benefits, which are calculated on a percentage of previous income, will be cut. But the government also plans to extend to 30 months the maximum period for which people can claim the benefits.

Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt and Social Security Minister Cristina Husmark Pehrsson, writing in Thursday’s Dagens Nyheter, called the plans “possibly the biggest package of reforms to sick benefits since 1992”.

They conceded that some of the changes would be seen as harsh, but emphasised that the purpose of the reforms was to get people back into work.

There will be changes to the way the amount of sick benefit to which people are entitled is calculated, in order to make the system more consistent and to promote getting people back into work. The exact shape of the reforms will be decided following an inquiry.

Fixed deadlines will be imposed to get people to try working again. After three months sick leave an assessment will be made of whether the person on benefits can manage alternative work at his or her existing workplace. After six months, an assessment will be made of whether the person could manage work in another workplace.

The changes will also make it possible to extend the period of sick leave to 30 months, compared to a maximum of twelve months at present. People will be able to claim 75 percent of their previous income during this period, subject to a cap. This compares to a limit of 64 percent of previous income at present for people who are off work for more than twelve months.

The government also said it has earmarked 3.4 billion kronor ($500 million) to guarantee rehabilitation for those on sick leave, and to strengthen occupational healthcare.