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On the fence

May 14, 2012

Sorry I’ve been so quiet. I have a stupid annoying virus trying to take over my body. I’m not sure if I should call it a bad cold or a light flu, since I have muscle pain but no fever.

I really hate these on-the-fence illnesses. Not quite bad enough to take sick leave; not quite well enough to work. Ok, so I don’t have a job, but I have stuff to do all the same. It’s sorta bad when the person responsible for household work is suddenly incapacitated. Plus I have to go to Arbeitsamt today and show them that I’ve been applying for jobs.

And speaking of illness: I read this blogpost in Swedish about a man with heart problems who has been judged capable of some kinds of work, and therefore counts as unemployed rather than sick. And I’ve been thinking. The rules in Sweden are: if you have a job, but get sick and can’t do it any more, that counts as sick. If there is no hope that you will ever go back to your former job, but you are capable of doing other kind of work, then your employer should if possible let you do that other kind of work. If you’re unemployed and sick, it only counts if you’re so sick that you’re uncapable of performing all jobs on the job market. The standard example is that of somebody who’s trained as a pilot, but has gotten eye problems. We can’t keep such a person on sick leave the rest of his or her life, since he or she is perfectly capable of most jobs.

What I’m thinking is that this criterium, “able to perform some job” is a bit strict. I think the criterium for somebody unemployed should be “has a snowball’s chance in hell of being hired”. Somebody with heart problems severe enough to be on the transplantation list, like the man in the blogpost I linked to above, will never ever get hired as long as there are able-bodied unemployed out there. Yes, he is probably capable of some kind of data-entry job or so, but who will hire somebody that sick to do it when there are healthy people vying for the same job? Why not let him draw sick leave money rather than unemployment support? Let him stay home and concentrate on taking care of himself. The hypothetical pilot however, who’s perfectly healthy apart from minor seeing deficiencies, shouldn’t have any special troubles getting hired, and would still count as unemployed rather than sick.

Yes, my proposed criterium is extremely vague. I know bureaucrats don’t like that. I still think it should be possible to implement it. It’s not like the present criterium doesn’t have a big fat greyzone either…

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