Reform of Social Legislation
Recently, a number of fundamental changes have occurred in the fields of social security and the labour market. Among others, disability, unemployment and pension schemes have been drastically modified in the Netherlands. The labour market and labour relations are now more flexible. For the future, further adaptations can be expected due to social developments i.e., demographic ageing, individualisation and internationalisation.
Demographic ageing increases the financial pressure on the welfare state, leading to an intensive social and scientific debate concerning the future of pensions and health care. As a result of individualisation, the need for more arrangements focused on individuals will arise, in which the employability of people will play a more central role. In addition, globalisation and in particular European integration will influence national social security systems and may lead to further European coordination of social policy.
In this research programme the consequences of social tendencies for the legislation and institutions in the fields of social security and the labour market are examined. This concerns the analysis of changes in the division of responsibilities (such as regulations at the national or at the European level, and public or private arrangements) and the changes to the objectives of social legislation (such as income protection, promotion of labour force participation and balanced labour relations) and the degree to which these objectives are achieved.
The research concerns analyses of both already realised reforms and of reform options for the future. It focuses in particular on the legal and economic aspects of the reform of social legislation. In addition, also a socio-scientific perspective is taken into account. The bulk of the research has a clear multidisciplinary character. It draws on several research methods: legal (among which is comparative law), economic (among which stands empirical analysis) and social-scientific (among which is comparative welfare state analysis).
An important part of the research is financed with subsidies provided by the Gak Foundation (Stichting Instituut Gak). In addition, substantial research funds have been provided by the European Commission.
The programme contains two interrelated components with corresponding sub-questions.
The first component concerns the influence of internationalisation and in particular that of European integration on social legislation. Attention is given, amongst others, to the question of whether and to what extent the disappearance of economic borders constitutes a threat to national social security systems. Another question that is analysed, is to what extent the social schemes in the Member States of the EU are converging. Furthermore, the legal and economic meaning of the European means of governance with respect to social policy is investigated.
Social security systems are in principle a national responsibility, but more and more co-ordination takes place at the European level. In this respect, the effectiveness of this coordination with respect to poverty reduction and the promotion of employment is analysed. Finally, attention is paid to the internationalisation of labour law. Within a European network, that has been co-founded with the University of Frankfurt, a study is conducted on the Restatement of European individual labour law. Study also takes place regarding the International Labour Organisation and the European Social Charter.
In the second component of the research programme, the reforms of the social security system and the reforms on the labour market are analysed from a national perspective. Here, the socio-economic effects of several programmes are addressed, such as the impact on the incomes of households and individuals. Also the legal consequences of the reforms are interpreted, for instance in the area of disability. Furthermore, the implications of recent developments, such as demographic ageing and individualisation, for the design of social security systems are examined. Here, the research is focused on, among others, the major reforms in the pension system, including both the public scheme (AOW) and the supplementary pensions. The emphasis lies on the financial impact and the impact of the reforms on income.
Also, the reform of the Dutch labour law will be taken into account. This concerns the study into adjustments of the Dutch labour law towards social developments, encompassing dismissal legislation, labour relations in the civil service (which includes the debate regarding the status of civil servants and the integration of the dispute resolution), labour dispute resolution in general and the right to training. In particular, the labour market position of older workers in the context of the objective to stimulate prolonged worklifes, will be taken into account.
Further information can be found on the website of the research programme Reforming Social Security.
For the study into European labour law see - www.labourlawnetwork.eu.