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Why do politicians get redundancy pay when they leave voluntarily?

Recently, a large number of Dutch MPs announced they will leave the political arena. They are - even if they leave voluntarily - entitled to redundancy pay, a kind of benefit.

Barend Barentsen, Professor of Labour Law, explains to Dutch current affairs programme EenVandaag that 'a career in politics involves many more risks than in business. As a member of parliament, for example, you have an employee underperformance risk: you are under public pressure. You may have to leave just like that. So this special redundancy scheme ensures that people dare to enter politics. Think of it as a kind of guarantee. The scheme has been tightened up since 2010, though. Back then, politicians also received redunancy pay up to and including retirement.'

'To what extent a person actually leaves voluntarily is a bit of a grey area. It was undesirable that the benefit agencies, who pay the redundancy money, determine whether someone's departure was voluntary or not,' says Barentsen.

It has become an issue due to a number of incidents involving politicians or former public administrators who were forced to resign because of serious mistakes, Barentsen observes.

'I quite understand that some people think: That mayor was good-for-nothing, how come he still gets two grand?'

'But in principle, this is no different to the unemployment benefit mechanism,' Barentsen continues. 'If you become unemployed and later find a less well-paid job, your unemployment benefit fills the gap between the salary of your old and new job. So in that respect, there's nothing odd about these politicians.'

What perhaps fuels the outrage are the amounts, Barentsen believes. 'If you now earn 150,000 euros whereas you used to earn 160,000 euros, people will find it unnecessary that the difference is partly covered. But that's also not the underlying principle of the scheme. It's more of an insurance policy.'

Want to know more?

You can read the article (in Dutch) on EenVandaag here.

More information (in Dutch) on the redundancy pay scheme

Photo: Towfiqu Barbhuiya via Unsplash

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