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The Netherlands — Employers want clear definitions of 'heavy duty work'

20 October 2009

Employers are concerned about the undefined notion of 'heavy duty work' in the pending legislation on the extension of the retirement age from 65 to 66 years and then to 67 years, Dutch News reports.

The government plans to force employers to find lighter tasks for workers who have done 'heavy duty work' for 30 years so they too can retire at the new pension age of 67. If employers don’t comply, they will have to pay staff an extra pension from the ages of 65 to 67.

However, many Dutch employers argue that they do not have enough lighter tasks available. Bus or coach driving, for example, is seen as heavy duty work by many but bus and coach firms only have very few administrative jobs on offer.

Bernard Wientjes, President of largest Dutch employer organisation (VNO-NCW) said on TV programme Buitenhof that "Ministers must make sure the definition in the pending legislation on pensions is as narrow as possible."

"The definition of 'heavy duty work' has changed considerably since the state pension was introduced in 1957. People leave school later, are not allowed to lift more than 25 kilos and live longer. Health and safety legislation has helped to make sure that workers are not physically damaged by their jobs. So there is nothing wrong with working for an extra two years."

According to the Dutch National Statistics Office (CBS), the most physically demanding jobs are carried out in the construction industry and the health service.



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