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Universal Basic Income as a Policy Response to COVID-19 and Precarious Employment: Potential Impacts on Rehabilitation and Return-to-Work


Stahl, Christian; Maceachen, Ellen


k. A.


Journal of Occupational Rehabilitation, 2021, Volume 31 (Issue 1), Seite 3-6, Dordrecht: Springer Niederlande, ISSN: 1053-0487 (Print); 1573-3688 (Online)




The COVID-19 pandemic has opened up thinking about how our social security programs, including workers' compensation, function and whether they are able to provide adequate support to people in the context of today's difficult health and work conditions. One policy option that has persistently emerged, across countries and over recent decades, is that of Universal Basic Income (UBI). In this editorial, we discuss UBI as a possible solution for some consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic and also as a long-term solution to our changing economies that increasingly include precarious employment and income insecurity.

At present, with COVID-19, we have a dramatic situation of un- and under-employment for which there are no ready policy remedies. Instead, we have seen emergency limited-term hand-outs, such as the payout of $ 1200 to all US citizens with a gross income less than $ 75,000-$ 150,000 in April 2020, and the Canadian Emergency Response Benefit that provided $ 500 per week to Canadian citizens who have stopped working due to COVID-19, for up to 24 weeks. Although not universal, this Canadian benefit extended to groups who had previously not been recognized as possible recipients of unemployment benefits, including self-employed, gig workers and part-time workers. Similar cash handouts were issued in Japan, while other countries had targeted cash transfers to vulnerable groups.

In what follows, we outline what UBI entails and how it relates to rehabilitation and RTW.

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Journal of Occupational Rehabilitation

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Informationsstand: 05.07.2021

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