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Sickness, Disability and Work: Breaking the Barriers (Vol. 2)

Australia, Luxembourg, Spain and the United Kingdom

image of Sickness, Disability and Work: Breaking the Barriers (Vol. 2)
Too many workers leave the labour market permanently due to health problems, and yet too many people with a disabling condition are denied the opportunity to work. This second report in the OECD series Sickness, Disability and Work explores the possible factors behind this paradox. It looks specifically at the cases of Australia, Luxembourg, Spain and the United Kingdom, and highlights the roles of institutions and policies. A range of reform recommendations is put forward to deal with specific challenges facing the four countries.

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Evaluating Recent and Ongoing Reforms

All four countries have gone through comprehensive sickness and disability policy reform in the past decade. In the United Kingdom and Spain, employment and benefit policy reform went largely hand-in-hand. In Australia, employment policy change preceded the more recent reform of the benefit system, while Luxembourg went through the reverse sequence, with employment policies only being adjusted and expanded after significant changes in the benefit system. In Australia and Luxembourg, reform has primarily affected people with a partial reduction of their work capacity, who are now expected to remain in or enter the workforce and who are given more help to achieve this. In Australia and the United Kingdom, the array of employment and rehabilitation programmes was extended considerably and new funding mechanisms were introduced. The United Kingdom, in particular, is also instituting new rights and responsibilities for the government and for new disability benefit claimants. Reforms in Spain were largely about decentralisation and concentration of responsibilities to improve service delivery and benefit eligibility management.

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