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Sweden pledges billions to tackle sick leave lists

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10:44 CEST+02:00
The Swedish government has announced the allocation of 17 billion kronor ($2.36 billion) in the autumn budget for initiatives to prepare the long-term sick for a return to the workplace.

According to the government, around 50,000 people claiming long-term sickness benefits stand to fall out of the system next year. This group has now been targeted with extra labour market measures, such as subsidized employment positions or practical occupational experience.

The Swedish Public Employment Service (Arbetsförmedlingen) will be given an extra 1.5 billion kronor to administer the new groups of applicants.

Even the group classified as disability pensioners are affected by the measures, according to labour market minister Sven Otto Littorin.

"It is a question of building bridges," he said.

Benefit payments for people occupied within the programmes would range from 223-680 kronor per day.

"This would depend on entitlement to unemployment insurance benefits," Littorin said.

But the government is not completely closing the door on the possibility of remaining on sickness benefits if the individual concerned is unable to participate in the Employment Service's programmes.

"There will be some flexibility within the system," Littorin assured.

Those that lose their rights to sickness benefits will at first undergo a three-month evaluation to establish their capacity for work.

They would then be forwarded to the Employment Service which will present alternatives from the portfolio of labour market training measures on offer.

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