26 January 2004
AMSTERDAM — Sick leave in the business sector strongly declined last summer, falling by almost 20 percent during July to September compared with the same period in 2002, the Central Bureau of Statistics (CBS) said on Monday.
Sick leave during the third quarter of 2003 was on average 4.1 percent in private sector companies, a decline of 0.9 percent. The means that one out of every 25 workers was at home sick, excluding pregnancy and maternity leave.
The CBS said private sector sick leave has decreased since the start of 2003, but the decline in the third quarter was stronger than in the first two quarters of last year, public news service NOS reported.
The fall in sick leave at public or government companies — from 6.1 percent to 5.7 percent — was somewhat smaller than that recorded in the private sector.
The public sector decline is largely due to improvements in healthcare, where sick leave fell 1.1 percent to 5.2 percent, the lowest figure in 10 years.
Social Affairs State Secretary Mark Rutte revealed last week that sick leave in business divisions where labour agreements have been made have fallen on average by 9 percent. But sick leave hardly fell in sectors where no labour agreements have been made.
More than 3.8 million workers, more than half of the Dutch workforce, are covered by such agreements. Rutte is keen to sharpen these contracts in coming years to reduce the flow of workers into sick leave and the WAO disability pension scheme by 20 percent.
The Netherlands has faced an alarming rise in healthcare costs in recent years. About 1 million people are currently on the WAO pension and healthcare costs are thought to be partly responsible for the end of the Dutch economic boom of the 1990s.
[Copyright Expatica News 2004]
Subject: Dutch news