Sick and long-term unemployed

Sickness benefit debate extends late into the evening

The debate continued late into the evening in parliament where politicians are voting on the measure to change rules for sick and long-term unemployed. A decision is now expected on Wednesday.

The opposition parties and people who have lost their sick and unemployment benefits have been criticizing the changes put in place by the current center-right government in 2007.

Now the opposition parties have put forward a proposal for three changes to the rules. The anti-immigrant Sweden Democrats had said they would vote for all three, but later said they would only support two of the proposals.

The first proposal that the Sweden Democrats had originally supported would have stopped the practice of taking away benefits from long-term unemployed due to sickness. Today, these people receive sickness benefits for a maximum of 2.5 years and then lose their benefits. And their capacity to work in any part of the labor force is investigated, meaning they must accept all types of jobs, regardless of education or work experience.

Instead, the proposals put forward today would once again give benefits to people who have slipped through the cracks of the social welfare system. They are not considered to be working, unemployed, or sick.

The other proposal to be voted on today would take away the requirement that sick people accept any work regardless of education and work experience.

The center-right government wants to delay the decision, but the majority in the Parliamentary Committee on Social Insurance decided to go ahead with the vote, which is expected to be close.