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When children fall ill

Agency wants to scrap unpopular form

Published tisdag 8 november 2011 kl 11.25
Will staff have more time for the kids in the future? Photo: Jonas Ekströmer/Scanpix.

The Social Insurance Office wants to scrap the form where parents who take time off work to stay at home with a child that is ill, have to get a counter-signature from the school or the nursery to confirm that the child actually was off sick that day.

The form was brought in to stop parents from cheating the system. But according to the agency's new general director, Dan Eliasson, it has not had any effect on cheating.

"It is unnecessary bureaucracy which has not given the state anything back", Eliasson told the daily Dagens Nyheter.

Dan Eliasson took on the job as general director of the Social Insurance Agency just over a month ago and one of his explicit missions is to try to make the much-complained about Social Insurance Agency more popular, developing in the same way as the Tax Office, which these days gets pretty positive feedback in customer surveys.

And it is the Social Insurance Office that parents have to deal with, when they have to take a day off work, to stay at home with their child when he or she is ill. A parent have the right to get just under 80 % of the salary from the Social Insurance Office on those days.

In order to get the compensation, the parents have to: first let the Social Insurance Office know, then order a form from the agency, then - when it arrives in the post - bring it to the school or nursery, where teachers have to sign it, and then put it in the post and send back to the agency.

The system was brought in just over three years ago to come to terms with what was seen as an "over-use" of this insurance - and a significant part of that was deemed to be cheating.

But according to an internal review made by the Social Insurance Agency in the beginning of the year, there is no proof that the system has had an effect on cheating. What can be confirmed however, is that it has caused extra paperwork from parents and teachers alike.

Every year some 700,000 parents have to ask school and nursery staff to sign the form - on average 3 times per year.

General Director Dan Eliasson expects that scrapping the form will save the Social Insurance Office over 1 million US dollars. But, he tells the news agency TT, that saving would "not be the most important" reason to scrap it. Instead, he says, it is that "it causes trouble in the every-day-life of parents of young children, in a way that does not fulfil a purpose for the state".

Upon hearing this, the head of the teacher's union Lärarförbundet, Eva-Lis Sirén said in a press statement: "If the forms have not had any effect they should be scrapped immediately. The forms have further increased the administrative burdon on the pre-school and has taken time from the teachers main tasks".

But in a comment to the news agency TT, the minister in charge, Ulf Kristersson says the forms are not likely to be dumped that quickly. It can only happen as part of a bigger system change that the government now is looking into, which among others will mean employers have to report their employees salaries every month, not just once a year.

Our journalism is based on credibility and impartiality. Swedish Radio is independent and not affiliated to any political, religious, financial, public or private interests.
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