Sustainable Employment and working caregivers
The working population of Drenthe is ageing and this has an influence on the job market. There is an increasing need for flexibility and a personal approach for those combining work and caregiving. For those running a business a stressed employee, who is also looking after a loved one at home, leads regularly to long term sick leave. The high costs involved are becoming ever more problematic – particularly for SMEs.
About 30 participants, representing a good mix of SME umbrella organizations and local and regional policy makers, joined IFC partners (the Province of Drenthe, the Municipalities of Hoogeveen and Aa en Hunze and VPB Emmen). Following a plenary session introducing some facts and figures four groups were formed to discuss the challenges faced, with emphasis on:
- Management, team leaders and company doctors.
- Health insurance companies, policy makers and labour legislation.
- Small & Medium Enterprises and freelancers/independent contractors.
- Health & Welfare and the ‘factory floor’.
Some quotes of the day:
- "There is a need for growing awareness for informal caregiving amongst entrepreneurs and we need to continue investing in this."
- "Freelancers and independent contractors are a vulnerable group, willing to be flexible but afraid to risk losing business."
- "There is tension between the various management levels in terms of how to deal with (limited) care leave and long term caregiving."
- "Flexible employers experience increased loyalty from their caregiving employees."
- "With an open corporate culture companies succeed in keeping caregivers out of sick leave – good business practice."
- "We need more cooperation between company doctors, social workers and the Human Resource department."
- "Legislation should be adapted so that it’s an advantage to adopt a caregiver-friendly company policy, such as a discount on sick leave insurance."
During this inspiring stakeholders event we also seized the opportunity to spread the word about our international In Fore Care cooperation and associated health-related initiatives in Drenthe.