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Outplacement

Country of implementation
Belgium
General short description of the innovation
Outplacement seeks to give active support to dismissed workers in their exploration of new job opportunities. This service, provided on individual or group basis, includes psychological support and job counseling, but also logistic and administrative support. / / Legal framework: compulsory outplacement and compulsory qualitative criteria / In some cases Belgian employers are required by law to provide outplacement services for dismissed employees. A distinction needs to be made between the cases of individual dismissal, in which the legal framework of individual outplacement is in place and the cases of collective dismissal, in which the legal framework of collective outplacement is in place. (Collective dismissal (conditions): A company with more than 20 but fewer than 100 workers, at least 10 workers are made redundant and in a company with at least 100 workers at least 10% of the workers are made redundant.) / / When employers or workers do not comply with the legal framework, they can be penalized. The law requires the employers to pay for the programme, however reimbursement of the outplacement cost is possible to a certain extent. In case of bankruptcy or financial difficulties, employers can make use of the Social Intervention Fund (Sociaal Interventiefonds). This fund, which is a department of the regional public employment service (PES) VDAB, is charged with the funding of outplacement guidance for those companies that cannot pay for their outplacement costs. / / There is also a legal framework for the minimum guidance intensity of outplacement: At least 30 hours of outplacement must be prescribed for the under 45 year olds and at least 60 hours for the + 45?s. / / Quality Label: CERTO / CERTO is a public-private partnership which safeguards quality standards in outplacement services (code of ethics; satisfaction surveys, proficiency testing for consultants, etc..). It?s a partnership between VDAB (Flemish PES) and Federgon (federation of HR service providers) and does so by granting certificates to outplacement agencies active in collective outplacement. It includes monitoring and reporting obligations for the outplacement agencies. / / Monitoring: regional control scheme / In case of collective dismissals, a regional control scheme exists facilitating cooperation, coordination and monitoring between the outplacement agency and the PES. This includes making use of the Client Tracking System of the regional PES (p.e. communicating guidance intensity), issuing outplacement certificates and communicating a final report to the PES. /
Target group
Total Populaton
Policy Field
    Type of Policy
    • public-private partnership
    • social partnership
    Duration of the policy
    Ongoing from 2002, but adapted several times as a result of changes in legislation.
    Scope of innovation
    • Scope: structural
    • Budgets: Central government budget and in some regions additional funding from a Social Intervention Funds (in case of bankruptcy).
    General description of (intended) objectives and strategies
    The outplacement instrument supports older employees threatened with dismissal in their search for another job. The policy aims to get workers faster into jobs and to prevent short-term unemployment turning into structural (long-term) unemployment. Especially unemployed older workers seems to be disadvantaged in their job search (lack of qualifications and transferrable skills, lack of mobility, age discriminations, etc..).Outplacement is also perceived as an instrument to encourage older workers not to withdraw from the labour market and hence avoid early retirement. / / In Flanders the outplacement instrument has evolved from a guidance tool (with a focus on individual counseling) to a job placement tool with a strong focus on matching and placement. This view is not always shared in practice as several players in the outplacement market emphasize the identity of outplacement counselling and the need to invest in employability and resilience of the laid off worker. / / The finality of outplacement may depend on whether the outplacement is either mandatory (employment units, CLA82 bis) or voluntary. In the latter case the content of the outplacement program depends on the agreements between the employer and the outplacement office. When outplacement is mandatory the content of the outplacement program is often a result of social negotiations between employers and employees, with the minimum qualitative criteria as the absolute minimum of the outplacement offered to dismissed workers. / /
    Type of ideal-typical strategy for the innovation
    • encompassing security
    • others (anti-dualisation )
    Type of innovation
    • retrenchment or expansion of an existing/earlier policy
    New outputs
    • benefit eligibility
    • governance
    • job guidance, coaching and/or counselling
    • regulations of the labour market
    • subsidies/tax-credits
    Clarification of intended mechanisms, outputs and outcomes (optional)
    Traditionally, Flanders has a low labour market participation in the age group 50-64. This is a result of different factors such as labour market institutions and the culture of labour market participation amongst elderly. Reaching the overall employment rate target of 76% by 2020, set by Flanders in the framework of EU2020, therefore implies increasing the employment rate of the older workers. Also, the current economic climate led to more individual and collective dismissals. The outplacement instrument aims to address these issues.
    Intended target group
    See Q5. There are different types of outplacement which have a different legal basis: / In the case of individual dismissal, employers are obliged to provide outplacement for all employees of 45 years of age and more. / In the case of collective dismissal outplacement is compulsory for all dismissed employees (without any age condition). Also individuals who are eligible for the early retirement schemes are included in the target group. / / Employers can also surpass the minimum legal requirement and offer outplacement to workers to whom the legal framework does not apply p.e 45- in the case of individual outplacement (CLA82). /
    Working age population
    • employment situation (unemployed)
    • main source of income: paid work
    Actors involved in policy-making/implementation and/or evaluation
    • agency or national social insurance body (regional public employment service (VDAB), represented in the employment unit )
    • central state (Federal Government)
    • employees (organised or individual) (represented (organized) in the employment unit by their trade union)
    • employers (organised or individual) (represented (individual/ organized) in the employment unit (ad hoc/permanent))
    • private for-profit organisations (commercial) (outplacement agencies (represented by Federgon))
    Clarification of the role of various actors
    Federal Government: The central government provides reimbursement of the outplacement cost. The amount of the reimbursement depends on the age of the redundant worker (+/-45) and the outcome (work/no work).The government also grants decreases in the social security contributions for the workers finding a new job through an employment unit, and for their new employer. / / The PES (VDAB): the implementation of outplacement and registration of the outplacement path in the regional control scheme. / Social Intervention Funds: This fund is a department of the VDAB and is used in the case of bankruptcy and financial difficulties. / / Social partners are represented in the employment . When outplacement is mandatory the content of the outplacement program is often a result of social negotiations between employers and employees, with the minimum qualitative criteria as the absolute minimum of the outplacement offered to dismissed workers. / Outplacement providers: Private sector agencies are the providers of outplacement services. Outplacement agencies must fulfill certain administrative obligations with regard to services offered and actions taken. The role of contracting authority can be taken up by the Social Intervention funds, sectors and employers involved in individual and collective redundancies. Since there are only few players with sufficient capacity to handle large cases, this leads to concentration on the market.
    Intended output
    • governance (involvement of private outplacement service providers, PES and social partners)
    • job guidance, coaching and counselling
    • services
    Did the innovation have any outcome related to job quantity?
    placement rate for collective outplacement after 6 months is around 50% instrument to encourage older workers not to withdraw from the labour market the aim is to prevent short-term unemployment turning into structural (long-term) unemployment, placement rate for collective outplacement after 6 months is around 50%
    Intended and unintended outcomes
    outcome quantification (proportion of target group): / / Results refer to collective outplacement, no detailed data on results in individual outplacement. / / Outflow* out of unemployment (in%) Placement Rate / (in %) Target audience / (absolute numbers) / Old legal framework KB 2006 ? period 05/2006 ? 03/2009 / No early retirement at reduced age 72.6 60.1 13.766 / Early retirement at reduced age 55.5 42.6 8.107 / Total 66.2 53.6 21.873 / Extended legal framework KB 2006 ? period 04/2009 ? 06/2011 / No early retirement at reduced age 84.4 65.0 11.623 / Early retirement at reduced age 46.0 33.9 11.873 / Total 65.0 49.3 23.496 / *Outflow results after 6 months. / / Outflow out of unemployment * Placement Rate / (Outflow to work) Target audience / Old legal framework KB 2006 ? period 05/2006 ? 03/2009 / No early retirement at reduced age 69.6 46.6 2.428 / Early retirement at reduced age 29.7 12.7 3.163 / Total 47.1 27.4 5.591 / Extended legal framework KB 2006 ? period 04/2009 ? 06/2011 / No early retirement at reduced age 66.4 37.7 3.381 / Early retirement at reduced age 41.5 17.7 3.647 / Total 53.5 27.3 7.028 / *Outflow results after 6 months (age:50+) / / The placement rate for collective outplacement is around 50%. For 50+ workers the outflow to work is overall lower compared with the overall results. In cases when there is an application to lower the retirement age, the outflow to work and the outflow out of unemployment is very low for the elderly (50+) compared to the cases where there is no such application. / / By means of the outplacement instrument, the conditions for taking up early retirement are being tightened up. Laid off employees who qualify for early retirement pension are obliged to take a six months outplacement counselling program. They will have to demonstrate that they have made efforts to find work before becoming eligible for early retirement. In reality, this group often lacks motivation to find work through outplacement programs as they miss the right job search motivation when they have they the prospect of early retirement. Not surprisingly, results show a very limited chance of outflow to work after outplacement for this group. Therefore this group often receives an alternative programme with more focus on their personal situation (and less on the search for a new job). / / Outplacement has become more accessible for target groups that were excluded from this type of counselling in the past. Results suggest that without the compulsory character, the programme would have operated at a much smaller level. / / /
    Clarification of outcomes in terms of impacting resilience and labour market inclusion
    The outplacement instrument supports older employees threatened with dismissal in their search for another job. Especially unemployed older workers seems to be disadvantaged in their job search (lack of qualifications and transferrable skills, lack of mobility, age discriminations, etc..).The policy aims to get workers faster into jobs and to prevent short-term unemployment turning into structural (long-term) unemployment. / Outplacement is also perceived as an instrument to encourage older workers not to withdraw from the labour market and hence avoid early retirement. By means of the outplacement instrument, the conditions for taking up early retirement are being tightened up. / In Flanders the outplacement instrument has evolved from a guidance tool (with a focus on individual counseling) to a job placement tool with a strong focus on matching and placement. This view is not always shared in practice as several players in the outplacement market emphasize the identity of outplacement counselling and the need to invest in employability and resilience of the laid off worker. /
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