The new head of the State Employment Agency Evita Simsone mentioned the entry of disabled people to the labour market as one of the new priorities for the institution. When asked about her vision and what needs to change in the institution, Simsone said she intends to continue the work the agency has been performing for the past 25 years.
She does see the need to review the basket of services to assist with the return of unemployed people to the labour market. This applies to disabled individuals as well.
Simsone noted that the development of the agency’s e-services is important for making available services more accessible for people with limited mobility. Cooperation with employers is equally important, she added. Simsone also said that the agency has performed preparations and many companies have adopted special personnel management programmes to employ disabled people.
When asked if it requires technical changes as well, Simsone said yes. She also added that this includes changing the way clients and employees think, making sure all people are provided with accurate information regarding different services.
When asked if she has plans for structural reforms in SEA, Simsone noted there are no global plans at the moment. Simsone denied there could be an increase or decrease of employees at SEA.
The Cabinet of Ministers approved Evita Simsone as the new head of the State Employment Agency on 20 December.
The announcement released to the media by Latvian Society of Rehabilitation states that the society joins the opinion of its specialists: that any resident with a profession and job is a treasure in Latvia, protection of which should be one of the main priorities for the country’s social policy. Indexes of Latvia’s demographic situation – ageing, departure of residents of work-age and ineffective vocational education system – limit the development of Latvia’s economy and reduce the trust in the longevity of the country’s social insurance system. It is no surprise that Latvian businessmen voice the opinion that inflow of foreign labourers should not only be allowed but also supported on a national level.
Active discussion is held about the future of Latvia’s healthcare. There is no doubt that without appropriate diagnostic and treatment, there is no point in discussing employment of disabled individuals. It is clear, however, that starting employment enhancement measured on the stage when a person has already left work due to an illness is too late, the society states.
LRPOA believes the state should adopt timely predictability of loss of ability to work and employ active preventive measures to ensure rehabilitation availability. SEA specialists could play an important role there as well. At the same time, LRPOA also believes that it is necessary to create a unified service assessment system on a political level using the International Functionality Classification categories and functionality assessment tools recommended by the World Health Organization.
LRPOA again turns the attention of Latvian politicians and society to the fact that there are many definitions to the term ‘disabled person’. Because of that, there is no clarity in regards to the priorities of the new management of the National Health Service in regards to the employment of disabled individuals. According to the World Health Organization, a disabled person is one bearing medium or serious health problems that cause motor or other kinds of problems. Society views disabled people as those provided with one of three levels of disability by the National Work Expert Physicians Commission based on the state of their health.
In spite of reforms, Latvia’s social policy, unlike that of other European countries, still relies on the 19th century pre-rehabilitation era approach. Limited accessibility of adequate and timely rehabilitation services in Latvia is a serious obstacle for employment. Individual rights included in Latvia’s legislation to refuse necessary rehabilitation, even if it’s readily available, and qualify for social support system in the long future should be viewed as poor application of human rights. For example, in Germany – a country will well-sorted social policy – rehabilitation in the event of an illness and restoration of the ability to work is one of the priorities of the medical treatment process and social service system. Unlike Latvia, this system is sufficiently motivating for the patient to be actively involved in rehabilitation.
With that, LRPOA believes the entry of disabled people to the labour market also depends on having an appropriate state social policy. The society hopes NHS will take active part in the creation of such a policy and help create regulations that will clarify the definition of the term disabled person in Latvia.