Half of workplace regulations ‘superfluous’
4 June 2004
AMSTERDAM — Social Affairs State Secretary Mark Rutte claims that workplace regulations must be significantly reduced and can even be cut by as much as 50 percent, prompting immediate objections from trade union FNV Bondgenoten.
Speaking at a Liberal VVD party meeting in Eindhoven, the junior minister said small businesses, in particular, complain frequently about what they deem to be ridiculous regulations. Some laws also contradict each other, they claim.
As an example, Rutte cited laws requiring restaurant kitchen floors to be coarse to prevent accidents, but hygiene laws requiring floors to be smooth to prevent food residues being left behind, Dutch public news service NOS reported on Wednesday.
Moreover, because there are so many laws a business must comply with, it is often too expensive to meet all conditions set down by the government.
But Rutte wants to maintain the regulations governing jobs in heavy industries, working at high heights and jobs involving dangerous substances. “They are businesses that we must continue to regulate well in legislation,” he said.
Regulations regarding the types of desk chairs required, office lighting and whether a window opens to the outside are superfluous, the state secretary said. He said such regulations can be left to individual companies.
Reducing the number of workplace regulations has been among the list of Dutch government objectives for some time and the Cabinet intends to place it on the European agenda when the Netherlands takes over the European Union rotating presidency on 1 July.
State Secretary Rutte intends to submit a proposal to the Lower House of Parliament, Tweede Kamer, later this year.
But trade union FNV Bondgenoten did not welcome Rutte’s proposals, fearing that workers will be worse off when workplace regulations are jettisoned.
“Many employers will no longer take protective measures. As a result workers will encounter health complaints in the long run,” FNV work expert Jan Warning said.
The union agrees with Rutte that there are several senseless regulations, but labelled the examples the state secretary gave as being outdated.
[Copyright Expatica News 2004]
Subject: Dutch news