Government backs off on sick benefits

Reacting to strong criticism, the government is now stepping back from plans to limit sick benefits.

Government backs off on sick benefits

Earlier, the government has suggested that no one be allowed to receive sick insurance benefits amounting to more than 75 percent of one’s salary after one year, even if someone had private insurance or a labor agreement which promised higher payments.

“The government will not implement this payment ceiling for sick benefits,” said Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt.

The proposal was thought to be in line with the government’s policies for getting more people to work.

“We were worried that a type of insurance might develop in labor agreements which worked against some of the job creation measures which were the aim of our changes,” said Reinfeldt.

He will now rely on actors in the labor market to ensure that the insurance schemes don’t adversely affect the government’s policies.

“And I am fully prepared to come after them,” added the prime minister.

Reinfeldt admits that tough criticism played a role in the government’s decision to withdraw the proposal.

Sweden’s main social insurance agency, Försäkringskassan, was among those critical of the proposal.

The agency felt it was unclear how it would have checked on whether someone receiving sick benefits may have also had private insurance to augment their payments in the case of illness.

“The proposal is built on the ability that one can know whether or not someone has private insurance. If a person doesn’t say it, we can’t know it, nor can we go and check whether a private individual has private insurance,” said Curt Malmborg, director general of Försäkringskassan.

“This is very good,” said Urban Bäckström, managing director of the Confederation of Swedish Enterprise (Svenskt Näringslivs) of the government’s decision.

He added that the different actors in the labor market can take care of the issue on their own.

“We have a system that works and the problem with the government’s proposal was that it eroded that system,” said Bäckström

He felt that the government’s plan was a mistake and shows that the idea was not fully thought out.