Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Dutch Nanny State, Muslims and Media

(martin q)

I saw a news story today on NOS that said a Dutch company that is paid to check up on people who falsely claim that they're sick has launched overseas operations.

So now they're checking up on people who call in sick while on vacation.

At first I thought the most amazing thing about this story was the implication that it's possible to call in sick while on vacation. Then I thought the most amazing thing is that there is a company in the Netherlands whose main function is to check up on whether workers are lying when they call in sick. Like professional narcs.

Well, those parts of the story are definitely true (you can call in sick while on vacation here in order not to waste any of your 25 days; the company that's made a business out of busting cheats is called VCC Groep).

It reminded me of another recent story that Dutch schools have started posting truancy officers ('leerplichtambtenaren') at Schiphol airport two days before the start of summer vacation to make sure that parents weren't sneaking their kids out of school early to avoid the crowds.


Anyway it turns out the NOS story was actually a derivative version of a slightly more interesting story in my favorite paper De Telegraaf(Dutch).

What a different impression we take away when we read the Telegraaf version:

"AMSTERDAM _ Special for Dutch employees of Moroccan and Turkish heritage, a new service is being set up to check up on those who call in sick during their vacations in those countries.

(akbar simonse)

"By calling in sick with a false doctor's declaration at the end of their vacation in Morocco or Turkey, they are able to milk out extra days in the sun for weeks at a time, healthy but paid. The doctor declares that the employee can't travel because of illness."

"It's striking that it happens primarily with Dutch of Moroccan and Turkish origin," says director Paul Chaillet of VCC Groep. ... "Usually a visit to the doctor who gave the false declaration is enough to get it retracted. But you do need to have a person there."


"The company primarily concerns itself with cleaners and production workers who 'arrange' a longer vacation."

I guess the text pretty much speaks for itself.

Personally, I've always been fascinated with the phenomenon of apparently healthy 'white' Dutch who don't work because they've been able (I guess) to swing a doctor's excuse but continue to draw their salary.


Every day, summer or winter, I see well-dressed white people relaxing in the cafes or doorways reading their newspapers with a coffee as I bike to work, and I think, "what do they do?"

Can we have a story about that, please, Telegraaf?


Anonymous said...

Dude, you live in the Pijp. Most "autochtonen" live outside the ring.

And even the ones that live near your place don't hang out at yuppie joints like Bagels & Beans or the Coffee Company. (And if you ever did see my pasty face at the B&B on the tiny Ferdinand Bol square it's because I'm a freelancer, determining my own hours and working from home, which back then was a mere 50 meters away.)

Toby Sterling said...

@Branko _ Yeah, that's right, take De Pijp.

I'm thinking specifically if you bike down Ceintuurbaan and past Cafe Bloemers and Sarphati, the way I used to (before my office moved toward Artis _ now I see college students on my way to work, which is more palatable).

There's several at any given moment in the the Sarpharti, wearing suit jackets and jeans, mid-40s, reading the paper _ no laptop in sight for any freelancing or work away from home gigs, I promise you.

This is pure jealousy speaking, you understand.

Anonymous said...

Dude, have you seen that guy hanging out at Cafe Plancius and the museum next to it? Always having coffee on the terrace and flirting with the female students in the museum? Its sickening...

Toby Sterling said...

@Flurt _ That guy is the worst. Certainly degenerate and probably a drug addict as well.

Laura K. said...

My husband had someone come check on him after calling in sick once. Luckily he really was sick but not in bed so when the intercom went, he quickly got into bed! The guy checked him out, said ok I believe you and said he had to see a dr and get a note if he missed another day (and this was only ONE sick day!). I think his company trusts him not to lie because it only happened that one time.

When has to take off for appointments like a kid is sick and needs dr or something, he takes it from vacation, he doesn't lie. The only 'lie' is he gets off to go to the dentist and ALL of us go but hey, would they nitpick that anyway?

The missing school thing I'm VERY curious about. Now that my son is 5 he legally can't miss school.. but someone told me that because he's another nationality (half American) he HAS the right to get vacation time off school to visit his other relatives. ANy chance you know if there's any truth to that? Traveling in the summer is just bankruptcy for a family of 4!

I think it's all nuts though.. in America it was never a problem to miss school so long as you gave enough notice and got homework to take with you, etc.