Author: Sylvie Ramakers

What if someone would like to return to their former job upon completing addiction treatment, only to find that their previous employer won’t hire them again? Besides providing one with income, dignity, and structure, employment can also be very important during someone’s recovery (Strickler et al. 2009). A survey conducted in the United States found that for 66% of respondents the knowledge that they could return to their work aided their addiction treatment considerably ( 2020). However, substance dependency is oftentimes still met with stigma, and re-integration in the workplace might prove difficult because of this (Lutman et al. 2015). Which mechanism is in place to get people back to work, and what options exist in The Hague specifically?

The Participation Act

The Participation Act (‘Participatiewet’) was introduced in 2015 to get more people to work, including those with a work-limiting disability (Van Echtelt et al. 2019). The target group is diverse, and often experience multiple problems, such as addiction or debts in addition to unemployment (Van Echtelt et al. 2019). As part of the Participation Act, sheltered employment (‘beschut werk’) offers an adjusted working environment or a job with an assisting supervisor (Beschut aan de bak 2020). The majority of sheltered work is created within social workplaces (‘SW-bedrijven’), which often have the expertise and provide simple employment with the possibility to work without performance and time pressure (Inspectie SZW 2019). The assistance goes beyond work functionality: attention is also paid to basic skills such as time management and personal hygiene (Inspectie SZW 2019). 

Much responsibility has been delegated to municipalities, as they have to realise the required number of sheltered workplaces and have to match the person to the job. In March 2019, a total of 2867 sheltered workplaces were realized nationally (UWV 2019). In the Municipality of the Hague, the number of necessary sheltered jobs was set to 166 for 2019 (Van Ark 2018), and at the beginning of 2018, 134 sheltered workplaces had been realised, making The Hague a leader in terms of implementation of sheltered employment (Baldewsingh 2018). In the greater Haaglanden Area, 241 employees held a sheltered position in March 2019, which amounted to 77% of the people who had been approved for sheltered employment overall – exceeding the national average by 11% (UWV 2019).

Figure 1. Process for sheltered employment, based on Inspectie SZW (2019)

To be able to request a sheltered workplace, one must qualify for either of the following criteria: 1) the employee would require one or more organizational adjustment which cannot realistically be expected from a regular employer; and/or 2) the employee would require permanent supervision or intensive guidance which cannot realistically be expected from a regular employer (see Figure 1; Inspectie SZW 2019).

The Haeghe Groep is responsible for connecting the people that qualify for a sheltered workplace with companies and governmental bodies in The Hague (Baldewsingh 2018). The organization is active in many different sectors; in administrative work, mail delivery, catering, and green space maintenance, to name just a few (Haeghe Groep 2020). As research indicates that motivation as well as possessing relevant interests and skills are important aspects of someone’s workplace reintegration process (Hogue et al. 2010; Strickler et al. 2009), the diversity in employment opportunities offered by the Haeghe Groep make the organization a promising service provider.


Baldewsingh, R. (2018). “Voortgansrapportage “Den Haag maakt werk!”, inclusief effectiviteit re-integratie.” Sociale Zaken en Wergelegenheidsprojecten. At

Beschut aan de bak (2020). “Over beschut werk.” Beschut aan de bak. At

Haeghe Groep (2020). “Diensten en Producten”. Haeghe Groep. At

Hogue, A., Dauber, S., Dasaro, C., Morgenstern, J. (2010). “Predictors of employment in substance-using male and female welfare recipients.” Journal of substance abuse treatment 38(2): 108-118.

Inspectie SZW (2019). “Eindrapport: Evaluatie beschut werk.” Rijksoverheid. At

Lutman, B., Lynch, C., Monk-Turner, E. (2015). “De-Demonizing the ‘Monstrous’ Drug Addict: A Qualitative Look at Social Reintegration Through Rehabilitation and Employment.” Critical Criminology 23: 57-72 (2020). “Workplace and Recovery.” American Addiction Centers. At

Strickler, D.C., Whitley, R., Becker, D.R., Drake, R.E. (2009). “First Person Accounts of Long-Term Employment Activity among People with Dual Diagnosis”. Psychiatric Rehabilitation Journal 32(4): 261–268.

UWV (2019). “Rapportage beschut werk: Eerste kwartaal 2019.” UWV. At

Van Ark, T. (2019). “Stand van zaken beschut werk.” Ministerie van Sociale Zaken en Werkgelegenheid. At

Van Echtelt, P., Sadiraj, K., Hoff, S., Muns, S., Karpinska, K., Das, D., Versantvoort, M., Putman, L. (2019). “Eindevaluatie van de Participatiewet.” Sociaal en Cultureel Planbureau. At

How can (Recovered) Substance Dependent People get back to Work in The Hague?

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