Flemish employment agency warned 1 in 5 jobseekers last year
Belgium is one of the few countries in the world without a specific cap on unemployment allowances. Workers who have lost their jobs can receive support from the Belgian State and will be periodically checked that they are actively looking for a new job and/or updating themselves in order to do so. Last year, about 23,900 job seekers received a sanction or warning from the Flemish Employment agency (VDAB).
That is 19 per cent of the number of jobseekers that must be checked and the highest number since the VDAB took over the authority from the (federal) RVA, says Flemish Minister of Work Jo Brouns (CD&V) this Friday, February 10.
Of those 23,900, 10,238 job seekers who failed to meet their obligations were sanctioned. This concerns, for example, a temporary suspension (8,093 cases) of unemployment benefits or the living wage. In 1,575 cases there was a definitive sanction. And 570 jobseekers received a warning that could eventually lead to an effective sanction. The total number of sanctions is therefore approximately 32 per cent higher than in 2021, when it was still 7,752.
In addition to the sanctions, the VDAB also issued 11,088 warnings to job seekers. The Flemish Service for Employment and Vocational Training then makes binding agreements with these job seekers about how to actively look for work. Failure to do so may result in financial sanctions.
The most common reason for submitting a file to the inspection service is not showing up for a meeting with the mediator - not even after a registered letter - accounting for 74 per cent of all files. Incidentally, this is the largest number of files since the VDAB took over control powers from the RVA in 2016.
According to Brouns, the VDAB has invested heavily in the training of mediators and in a stronger internal follow-up of the mediation over the past year. That has led to more sanctions and warnings, says the minister. "If it turns out that a jobseeker is not making enough effort to respond to the efforts of VDAB, action must be taken on unemployment benefits. Sanctioning is not an end in itself, but a means to get as many people as possible to work," says Brouns.
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