NETHERLANDS - A majority of the Dutch parliament supports the extension of the tax-friendly ‘levensloop' life-course scheme.

The Christian-democrats CDA and the labour party PvdA have indicated their agreement on opening-up the scheme for the self-employed, the introduction of a bonus for educational leave and extending the period for parental leave.

In order to make the new scheme- so far about 5% of all employees have joined - more attractive, the CDA has proposed to allow individual workers to participate independently, instead of via their employer.

The self-employed would also have the opportunity to join similar schemes, for example, by making schemes for entrepreneurs more flexible, it said.

The CDA wants to extend the subsidised parental leave from three to four months and a half for each parent. In addition, the government should make the levensloop  applicable to educational leave, while the employer is allowed to make a contribution.

Also, the CDA wants to extend the use of the levensloop credit to temporary part-time work.

A new option, of using more credit than available would allow young parents to take actual parental leave. Paying this off should be settled via a new tax facility, the CDA said. Is has also proposed to make the levensloop credit transferable to surviving relatives.

"Earlier, we have already presented part of the current plans, and it is good to know the CDA is supporting us now," responded PvdA MP Jet Bussemaker.

Under the present levensloop scheme, workers can save up to 12% of their salary annually on a tax advantageous basis  -  and up to a total of 210% - for unpaid intermediate leave, for example, parental care and educational leave, as well as early retirement. The scheme is designed to encourage people to work longer.