Unemployed people who do not want to accept a job offer after three years must lose their unemployment benefits. CD&V chairman Sammy Mahdi said so on Sunday in “The Seventh Day” on One. He also advocates compulsory language lessons for job seekers who don’t have a sufficient command of Dutch and also wants a penalty like a stick behind the door for those who don’t want to accept that offer.
Mahdi recently called on the federal government to implement a series of reforms. One of these concerns labor market policy. CD&V will come out with a big plan on Thursday. In ‘The Seventh Day’ the Christian Democrat president has already explained two concrete proposals.
The first concerns the degressivity of unemployment benefits. Mahdi wants to strengthen it. For those who have just become unemployed, Mahdi sees no problem in the fact that the benefit is temporarily higher, but then has to fall more sharply, only to lapse after three years. Another factor is the fact that those who are unemployed for three years have little chance of finding work afterwards.
Specifically, Mahdi wants an interview to take place with the unemployed six months before the end of those three years. If he does not accept a “final offer”, he is no longer entitled to unemployment benefits. The CD&V member, however, argues that the person concerned is subsequently followed up locally and that the regions have the tools to get to work.
Knowledge of the language
A second proposal concerns the linguistic skills of jobseekers. One in four job seekers today does not have sufficient knowledge of Dutch to accept a job offer, said Mahdi. He therefore wants to give the VDAB the possibility of imposing compulsory language lessons from day one. If a job seeker does not want to accept that offer and becomes unemployed, a sanction for the Mahdi must be possible. In that case, he cannot claim unemployment benefits.
“We have come to a time where just showing a carrot to get people to work is no longer enough to get the long-term unemployed and those who refuse to work,” Mahdi said. “We must not be afraid to use the stick too. Everyone must take their responsibility to protect our prosperity.”