The people no longer eligible for unemployment benefit feel they have been unfairly treated and are trying to fight it, six months to a year after becoming ineligible. This is according to an inquiry by the Catholic University of Louvain (UCL), the results of which were released on Saturday. This inquiry was requested by the Actiris Brussels Employment Observatory. 55 of the people affected took part. The job seekers concerned see the institutions they deal with or have dealt with as cold and unconcerned by what they have been through. The researchers say it is a “non-appealable” failure in the job seekers policy regarding that particular category of job seeker.
The people asked said there was a “notable difference” in how authorities perceive job seekers in general and how job seekers see themselves. Marc Zune, a UCL researcher at the Institute for historical change and contemporary societies, says “stricter rules for unemployment benefit have a tendency to isolate people who do not have typical employment or social profiles, such as stable full-time employment”.
It particularly affects those who have other issues to deal with as well, so looking for a job is their not always their top priority. It could be looking after their family, finding somewhere to live, or dealing with debt. Despite all this, “institutions expect formal, constant and intensive action.” These differences in opinion tend to create distance between the people who are ineligible for benefits and institutions.
Once it has been decided someone is no longer entitled, their unemployment benefit payments are stopped. But researchers have noticed no other solution is automatically put in place. “It creates processes that very clearly depreciate, degrade and impoverish, which affect both the job seeker and their entourage”, Marc Zune says.
He thinks the methods used to evaluate job seekers need looking into. This would involve a more global and personalised follow-up process for job seekers. All their professional experience should be taken into account (small jobs, missions, freelancing, volunteer work, other commitments etc). He also wants to change how people access unemployment benefit. The allocations “are set out according to the budget rather than employment sociology”.