Policy Choices Relating to Incapacity for Work Schemes

  • Danny PietersEmail author


In this chapter we respond to an increased interest in incapacity for work schemes. Incapacity for work schemes confront us with an important number of policy issues that require closer attention. What is incapacity for work? Why do we have different schemes for unemployment and incapacity for work? These are the more fundamental questions we begin with. All incapacity for work compares the remaining work and earning capacity with that before health damage was incurred, hence the issue of defining the reference person. Should incapacity for work take into consideration the remaining real possibility of earning an income? This is the question that arises when discussing a concrete or abstract definition of incapacity for work. Some countries opt for evaluating work incapacity in percentages, while others prefer the use of classes of incapacity. Some countries have a social security benefit in case of work incapacity preceded by a (short or long) period of continuation of wage payment. What are the advantages and disadvantages of the choices that countries have to make? To “activate” incapacitated people is the ambition of many schemes, and questions of whether we should allow work-incapacitated people to work, or even go for preventive benefits, are also questions that are discussed. Some work-incapacitated groups are better off than others, for instance when the work incapacity is due to a professional risk, and we ask if these privileges should be questioned. We conclude our reflections concerning work incapacity schemes by looking at the two very real issues of whether people should be made increasingly responsible for their own health and therefore their work incapacity, and if we should take the broader view and incorporate reflections on the need for care too?


Incapacity for work schemes Evaluating work incapacity Abstract vs. concrete definition of work incapacity Continued wage payment Activation Preventive benefit Professional risk insurances Long term care 


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© The Author(s) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institute for Social LawKU LeuvenLeuvenBelgium

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