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The Dutch human rights commission has criticised government plans to allow employers to pay workers with a physical or mental disability below the minimum wage. Ministers say allowing employers to break minimum pay rates will courage them to take on more disabled staff.
Thousands of disabled people have ended up jobless after the government began closing down special sheltered workplaces several years ago. The plan involves allowing employers to pay disabled workers according to their productivity. So if someone is considered 50% disabled, the employer can pay them 50% of the minimum wage. Local authorities will then make up the difference.
However, the human rights commission said in its ruling this is discriminatory because disbaled workers will be in a worse position in terms of pensions and fair rewards for their work. By forcing people to ask local authorities for top-up income, they will also fall under the same rules as welfare benefit claimants. And that means no extra income if other people in the household are working or if the person involved has other financial assets.
The commission’s rulings are not binding on the government. The plan has been severely criticised since it was launched at the end of last month. So far over 68,000 people have signed a petition calling on the government to drop the idea.
This article originally appeared in the Dutch online news site dutchnews.nl. We thank them for their permission to reproduce it here.