Occupational health care and maintaining work ability

Sustaining work ability demands the mutual collaboration of employees, employers, and occupational health care services.

Ultimately, employees bear responsibility for their own work ability, while employers must create working conditions that do not adversely affect the health of employees. Occupational health care expertise supports the promotion in the workplace of work ability and health.

Maintaining work ability is especially important in professions where workers have to cope with physical and psychological pressures.

Occupational health is for everyone in work

Employers have a statutory obligation to arrange occupational health care.

Occupational health care aims to promote occupational health, the safety of work and the working environment and to prevent occupational diseases.

Comprehensive and quality occupational health care seeks to increase people's staying power at work and to help prolonged working careers.

Early support is essential

The most important preventive measures in occupational health care are maintaining work ability, sufficient early treatment, and timely rehabilitation.

But if working incapacity becomes protracted, occupational health care can help employees return to work following sick leave. This requires close cooperation between employees, employers and occupational health care professionals.

In June 2012, legislation took effect by which the remaining work ability of employees must be assessed by occupational health care after 90 working days of sick leave. Employers, employees and occupational health care professionals must estimate how the return to work can be best supported, for instance by making working times more flexible.

For more on occupational health care see the section on Health service

Opportunities to work for people with partial work ability

If work ability has declined either temporarily or permanently impaired, the employment threshold must be lowered by increasing flexibility in the workplace and the readiness of employers to hire people with partial work ability.

It is important that attention focuses on a person's remaining work ability, not on their level of working incapacity.

According to the concept being developed concerning people with partial work ability remaining in work and gaining employment, such individuals are to be appointed a personal work ability coordinator, who will coordinate different methods, services, training schemes and benefits into a single support package.

Reintroducing people with partial work ability into the labour force

What if work is the cause of sickness or accident?

Employers have to arrange and pay for accident insurance to compensate expenses and earnings in the event of occupational diseases or workplace accidents.

For more on accident insurance see the section on statutory insurance: