“Budgetary restrictions suggested by Kris Peeters (Minister for Employment) amount to discrimination, and are unacceptable both for society as a whole and for individual families.” This was the League of Families’ reaction on Thursday to the withdrawal of the “waiver allowing the unemployed not to seek work because of social or family motives”. The option to temporarily opt out of the job market whilst receiving benefits was withdrawn on January 1st, 2015. The unemployed could apply for the waiver if they had to care for a sick person, but also if they had to bring up a child under 4. According to Minister for Employment Kris Peeters (CD&V), it is still possible for these people to look for work as they perform their family duties.
In December 2014, 6,076 people, 94% of which were women, were exempt, indicated the Standaard on Thursday. Over the last 15 years, 8,750 people on average have applied every year. With this cancellation Kris Peeters hopes to save 6 million euros in 2015, and up to 12 million next year, pointed out the minister’s spokesperson in the Flemish newspaper.
The measure amounts to “discrimination”, retorted the League of Families on Thursday, as they feel workers and job seekers are not equal in case a family member falls ill or has an accident: “currently, working parents in this situation are credited with time off, can ask for a special break, or choose to put their careers on hold. They then get benefits and do not lose out for their pension. Since January 1st, 2015, the unemployed have lost those rights. (…) “Once again, the most vulnerable people, starting with families and women, are targeted by active labour market policies.
(…) We are talking here of responsibility and solidarity within a family. This is to be encouraged not penalised,” adds the League, also regretting the absence of “a real public debate” before the measure took place.