Netherlands says 38.6% of older workers in jobs

NETHERLANDS – An official from the Dutch Ministry of Social Affairs and Employment has said 38.6% of workers aged 55 and over are in jobs – though it was too early to say if the policy has succeeded.

Leny van der Heiden-Aantjes, of the Department of Pension Policy in the Directorate of Industrial Relations, cited the figures at a conference in Brussels. “So we’re moving the right way, though it’s too early to say Dutch policy has succeeded,” she said.

The Netherlands has targeted an annual rise of 0.75 percentage points in the employment of older workers, van der Heiden-Aantjes said. She joked it was the first time the Netherlands had ever set a measurable objective. “We’re still proud of that.”

She acknowledged that the social partners were “furious” over plans to cut tax relief on early retirement schemes. “Not everybody was fond of our idea of abolishing tax relief.”

She said that under the agreement between the cabinet and the social partners made in November last year, wages would be frozen in 2004 and 2005. And under the agreement the cabinet’s plans would be postponed until January 1 2006.

“Cabinet and social partners should reach an agreement on early retirement schemes, pre-pension and life course arrangements in April 2004,” van der Heiden-Aantjes said. The talks were still going on, and she said: “I hope we will succeed but I cannot be sure.”

She added that a new government statement on the older workers taskforce could be expected in May 2004.

“Changing mentality is very hard to do, changing legislation is much easier,” she said.

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