Disabled workers to be taken into special public work program

July 5, 2016

The Hungarian government has initiated an experimental program intended to draw mentally, physically or socially disabled people into its public work program, reports Hungarian print daily Magyar Nemzet.

There are currently 132,000 people seeking work via employment services that have been unable to find work for over a year, and are unqualified for the controversial public work program due to disability. The government aims to draw these disabled people into its new pilot program, which will initially affect 300 people in four counties, and eventually take effect country-wide next January. The program began on July 1.

Half of the minimum wage

Currently, those working in the public work program receive a little over half of minimum wage for their labor: HUF 52,000 (USD 180) per month sweeping streets, cleaning gutters, cutting grass and tilling fields. Those taken into the special work program will receive even less, a gross total of HUF 41,000 (USD 144) for six-hour work days, thanks to a change in government regulations creating a lower-tier wage category for the “difficult to employ”. Those who have at least secondary school education will receive HUF 53,000 (USD 186). The national minimum wage, by contrast, is HUF 101,000 (USD 355).

Those previously considered “unfit” for the normal public work program will undergo occupational health examinations, and if found fit for work, will be registered with the special program. If they are found unfit, they will be sent for medical and rehabilitation treatment, reports Index.hu. The program is aimed specifically at those who have been unsuccessfully seeking work for more than 12 months, or who have consistently failed to pass health examinations and are known to be struggling with health, mental or social issues, according to the Interior Ministry.

New public work centers have already been created in the settlements where the program is operating, where workers can perform “simple, easy to learn labor” suitable to the condition of the worker, according to the Interior Ministry. The program can be expected to drive down the unemployment rate in Hungary even further from its current 6.2%, since now even those typically considered unfit for work will be sent to clean gutters and cut grass for nearly no money, and will be considered “employed”.