REPORT PREPARED BY THE GOVERNMENT OF THE NETHERLANDS ANTILLES

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1 UNITED NATIONS ECONOMIC COMMISSION FOR LATIN AMERICA AND THE CARIBBEAN - ECLAC ENGLISH ORIGINAL: ENGLISH Thirty-eighth meeting of the Presiding Officers of the Regional Conference on Women in Latin America and the Caribbean Mar del Plata, Argentina, 7 and 8 de September 2005 REPORT PREPARED BY THE GOVERNMENT OF THE NETHERLANDS ANTILLES This document has been written by the Government of The Netherlands Antilles. The views expressed en this document, which has been reproduced without formal editing, are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Organization.

2 Ministry of Health and Social Development Report Netherlands Antilles XXXVIII Meeting of Presiding Officers of the Regional Conference on Women in Latin America and the Caribbean An Overview of the Social Protection provisions in the Netherlands Antilles in preparation for the XXXVIII Meeting of the Presiding Officer of the Regional Conference on Women in Latin America and the Caribbean Prepared by the Directorate of Social Development Netherlands Antilles August 2005

3 Table of Contents 1 Introduction 3 2 Social security protection in the Netherlands Antilles 3 3 Welfare 8 2

4 1 Introduction The Netherlands Antilles has for a period of more than 10 years been going through serious financial difficulties and high unemployment rates especially among young people and women. Because of the social and financial crisis and the consecutive introduction of structural adjustment programs, the governments of the 5 islands constituting the Netherlands Antilles and the Central Government were forced to curtail their spending and cut (social) services, lay off civil servants and reduce subsidies to all kind of NGO s. The NGO s and services working on behalf of families, the poor, the sick and elderly, and women, were hit the hardest. within this scenario it becomes even more important and urgent that adequate social protection insurance is in place. The Netherlands Antilles has known one form or the other of social protection for decades and has institutionalized social insurance for over 70 years. On the national level the major social insurance institutions of the Netherlands Antilles are: the General Pension fund of the Netherlands Antilles (APNA) and the Social Insurance Bank (SVB). Social welfare on the other hand is regulated and paid out by the government of the island territories 2 Social security protection in the Netherlands Antilles General Pension Fund of the Netherlands Antilles (APNA) 3

5 APNA was founded in 1936 and has been in charge of the enforcement of the pension schemes of about employees and former employees of the government both national and insular. The APNA offers: 1. Old age pension 2. Disability pension 3. Dependents pension 4. Orphans pension The Social Insurance Bank (SVB) The Social Insurance Bank (SVB) was founded in 1960 and is entrusted with the execution of the following social insurance laws: 1. General Old Age Pension Insurance Act 2. General Widow(er)s and Orphans Insurance Act 3. Accident Insurance Act 4. Health Insurance Act 5. Severance Pay Insurance Act The Social Insurance Bank is a public authority with legal personality. The General Old Age Insurance Act provides for compulsory insurance against the financial consequences of old age for the entire population of the Netherlands Antilles. Under its provisions, insured persons receive an old age pension on reaching the age of sixty and it does not discriminate on the basis of gender or length of life. As results of amendments to the Old Age Insurance Act, effective as of January 1996, anyone who reaches the age of 60 and is insured has an independent entitlement to a pension. The Old-Age Insurance Act provides for compulsory insurance against the financial consequences of old age for the entire population of the Netherlands Antilles. Under its provisions, insured persons receive an old age pension on reaching the age of sixty. 4

6 As a result of amendments to the Old-Age Insurance Act, effective as of 1 January 1996, anyone who reaches the age of 60 and is insured has an independent entitlement to a pension, irrespective of his/her civil status. In the case of married couples where the person entitled to a pension is 60 years or older, but his/her partner has not reached pension age, the rule is that the partner will receive an allowance provided their joint income does not exceed 12,000 guilders ($ 6900) annually. If a person entitled to a pension/allowance dies, a lump sum equal to four months old-age pension will be paid to eligible dependants, in accordance with the requirements of fairness. All who qualify for a pension receives a Christmas bonus in the month of December which is 100% (as of 2001) of the monthly pension they are entitled to, in the period preceding September of that year. The old-age insurance contribution is 4.5% of the employee s income, on the understanding that no contribution is due on that part of the income that is over 45, guilders ($ 25,985) per year. The contribution is deducted by the employer and remitted to the SVB. Applications for review may be lodged with the Court of the island territory. The widow(er) s pension varies from 240 (140) to 520 ($ 280) guilders depending on age. A widow(er) with one or more children receives the maximum amount. The orphan s pension varies from 174 ($100) to 240 ($ 140) guilders depending on age, whether the person is disabled or enrolled in full-time education and whether he/she is categorized as half orphan or full orphan. The widow(er) entitled to the pension receives on remarriage a lump sum representing one year s pension. On the death of the widow(er) receiving the pension, an eligible dependant receives an amount representing three months of pension allowance. Pension contributions are paid by the employee and the employer equally and 5

7 amount to 1% of the employee s income. No contribution is due on that part of the income which is over 45, guilders ($ 25,985) per year. The employer deducts the contributions and remits them to the SVB. The government pension fund provides for pensions for widow(er)s and orphans of government employees and civil servants. The amount depends on the last pay received and is supplemented by a cost-of-living allowance. The Cessantia Act stipulates that when an employee has played no part in the termination of the contract of employment, he/she is entitled to severance pay from the employer. This applies to civil servants, teachers and those employed under a fixed-term contract. The amount of the severance pay depends on the employee s salary and on the number of years of service. If the employee receives a pension on termination of the employment contract and the pension is higher than the old-age pension, he/she does not qualify for severance pay. If the employer does not pay the severance pay for whatever reason, it is paid by the Social Insurance Bank. The Bank is then entitled to recover that amount from the employer. For the purposes of the Cessantia Act there is a fund into which employers pay an annual amount for every employee in their service. At the request of the employee, the Director of the SVB will decide whether he/she is eligible for severance pay. An application for review of this decision may be lodged with the Court of the island territory. Accident insurance. All employees who have been declared unfit for work as a consequence of an accident at work or on the way to or from work (taking the shortest route and the time the accident occurred into consideration) receive accident-related pay. In the event of complete incapacity for work 100% of the daily wage will be paid during the first year. In the case of partial incapacity, the employee will receive a proportionate amount of the daily wage. 6

8 Maternity leave. As of 1999 pregnant employees are entitled to sick pay for a minimum of six weeks preceding the expected date of delivery and six weeks following delivery (maternity leave). During this period the employer is obliged to pay the worker 100% of her daily wage. The SVB has a statutory duty to reimburse 80% of this daily wage. Civil servants insurance. Civil servants and their family members are entitled to receive compensation for the expenses of medical treatment and care and other related costs. The government pays 90% of the expenses incurred and the employee 10%. Redundancy fee. With regard to the reorganization of the government apparatus, a redundancy fee will be -granted to discharged employees in conformity with the Central Government s Redundancy Arrangement. Until January 2000, discharged employees could claim redundancy fee for four years at the most. As from 2000 this term was reduced to a maximum of 2 years. The accumulation of redundancy fee depends on the number of working years fulfilled. For each working year redundancy fee is allocated for two months up to a maximum of 24 months. In the first three months of the redundancy fee period 95% of the employee s last salary will be paid; during the following 7 months of the redundancy fee period 85% of the last salary is paid; afterwards during 10 months 75% of the last salary is paid and in the last four months of the reducedpay-period the discharged employee will receive 70% of his/her last salary. Deceased civil servants pension. With regard to the allocation of a pension to widows and widowers of deceased civil servants, the situation is as follows. At the death of a (former) civil servant, the widow/widower can receive a pension that is equal to 5/7th of the pension that he/she would receive if the deceased 7

9 person had reached the age of 60. Children under eighteen will receive l/7th of the orphan s pension. As stated earlier on, the precarious financial situation in the Netherlands Antilles led to the implementation of different cost-cutting measures in the nineties. With regard to the pension scheme a few measures were taken. In January 1996 the pension age was raised from 55 to 60. The early retirement scheme. In order to guaranty the pension rights of the civil servants, who had been working for the government before 1 January 1996, the early retirement scheme was introduced. The conditions applicable to this scheme are a 20-year pension contributing service, of which 5 years were accumulated in the Netherlands Antilles, and the employee must be at least 55 years of age. In 1998 the revised Pension Scheme for civil servants was enforced. This revision is based on a market related pension scheme. As of this date both employees working for the government and employees in organizations hived off and made independent by the government must enter into the Pension Scheme of the Netherlands Antilles. The new pension scheme also provides for that a civil servant who has been declared unfit to work due to an accident, irrespective of the place of his/her accident, will receive a disability allowance immediately. 3 Welfare The number of persons who received welfare in 2000 was of a total population of approximately persons in the Netherlands Antilles, these amounts to about 5 percent of the population. Another economic measure taken on behalf of the welfare of the family is the arrangements made for free school transport for children who do not live within walking distance of their school. This service is available to parents of all levels 8

10 of income. The Netherlands Antilles provides different types of social and health services to individual family members and families. Prenatal and postnatal care at the Maternity Clinic runs by the Community Nurse Care (Neutrale Wijkvereniging). Neutrale Wijkvereniging operates a series of well-baby clinics at no or little charge. The island government of Curaçao also subsidizes this foundation. The Yellow and White Cross also provides postnatal care at home and at their Well-Baby clinics in the Netherlands Antilles The Infese (Curaçao) offers classes/information about pregnancy and birth. The island governments also subsidize Family Home Care and Home Care for the Elderly The health departments on all of the five islands provide free Youth Health Care Services and Youth Health Clinics. One of the services provided by the Youth Health Care Department in Curaçao is a health outreach program for students in secondary schools. In 1999 the number of persons receiving welfare amounted to 9631 of a total population of about 200 thousand. The large majority of welfare recipients live in Curaçao (see table below). The Island Territory of St. Maarten pays the highest average welfare amounts per person, while the lowest average applies to Saba. Welfare consists of a maximum amount per couple or single person (136 guilders [$ 80] per two weeks) plus an amount for each dependent child (in Curaçao guilders [$ 10] per two weeks). Besides welfare in cash the recipients have access to subsidized housing, water and electricity subsidies (in Curaçao, in 2000, on average guilders [$ 1900] per month for 1867 clients), diet supplements (in Curacao, depending on the kind of diet, to a maximum amount of 42 guilders [$ 24] per two weeks), a clothing allowance of 100 guilders [$ 57] at the beginning of the school year for schoolchildren, exemption of the waste 9

11 removal tax and free medical assistance by way of a so-called PP (Pro Pauperi) card. Free Medial Assistance is given to persons who qualify because of unemployment, low income (without insurance) or people who only receive the government pension. It is also possible to receive medical assistance on temporary basis or for partial coverage of medical costs. The number of PP cardholders is much larger than the number of welfare recipients in the Netherlands Antilles. Equality between men and women has been one of the major targets the government tried to reach in the last decade. Indeed, major discrepancies have been eliminated and men and women enjoy equal rights and benefits in nearly all areas of social insurance and social protection. Some of the changes have benefited women particularly because of their reproductive role. 10

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