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Welfare Reform on the Web (June 2009): Social security - overseas

Adapting labour law and social security to the needs of the 'new self-employed': comparing the UK, Germany and the Netherlands

K.S. Buschoff and C. Schmidt

Journal of European Social Policy, vol. 19, 2009, p.147-159

The 'new self-employed' do not correspond to the traditional profile of the entrepreneur, given that they work on their own account and without employees, often in professions with only low capital requirements. They are found in service industries such as health and education, and in the construction industry due to outsourcing and subcontracting. These people rely on selling their labour just as those in formal employment do, but their incomes are often irregular. As a rule, they are not subject to labour law but to civil and commercial law and therefore do not enjoy the protection afforded by workers' rights. In most European countries they are not protected to the same extent as employees by statutory social security schemes. This article describes initiatives to adjust labour law and social security systems in the UK, Netherlands and Germany to accommodate the new self-employed. It is concluded that, despite the similar challenges faced by all three countries, path-dependency has led national legislators to adopt very different strategies to adapt social security schemes and labour law.

Contracting out: lessons from the Netherlands

D. Finn

Working Brief, Feb. 2009, p. 3-4

In the Netherlands, individual reintegration agreements (IROs) have been introduced to deliver a more personalised service to unemployed people IROs entitle participants to negotiate their own service packages directly with providers. An IRO trajectory can last up to two years and the usual maximum price is 5,000 euros. The contract offers a 'no cure, less pay' funding formula, and the provider is paid 20% at the beginning of an agreed plan, 30% after six months participation with 50% of the agreed fee payable for sustained employment.

Fiscal retrenchment and social assistance in Canada

R.D. Kneebone and K.G. White

Canadian Public Policy, vol. 35, 2009, p. 21-40

Three provincial governments in Canada responded to a confluence of events in the 1990s by introducing important changes to the delivery of their social assistance programmes. Those governments significantly tightened eligibility rules, imposed elements of 'work-fare', made more stringent the requirements for remaining in the programme, and in general introduced changes to the culture that administered the delivery of government services. This research measured the impact of these changes on the fraction of the population claiming benefits. Results showed that, after controlling for labour market tightness, competing sources of income and levels of social assistance payments, changes in administrative procedures reduced social assistance rates in those provinces that introduced them.

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