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Occupational health care and maintaining workability

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

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

Maintaining workability 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 high quality occupational health care services enhance workability and prolong working careers.

Early support is essential

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

But if work disability becomes protracted, occupational health care can help employees return to work after sick leave by adjusting the workload to ensure that a returning employee can carry out their job safely and effectively. This requires close cooperation between employees, employers and occupational health care professionals.

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

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

Work opportunities for people with partial workability

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

It is important to focus a person’s existing work-ability, not on the level of their working incapacity.

People with partial workability remaining in work and finding work are appointed a personal workability coordinator to help arrange different methods, services, training schemes and benefits into a single support package.

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:

Further information

Riitta Sauni, lääkintöneuvos 
Ministry of Social Affairs and Health, Työ- ja tasa-arvo-osasto / TTO, Toimintapolitiikkayksikkö / TY 0295163147  


Kristiina Mukala, lääkintöneuvos 
Ministry of Social Affairs and Health, Työ- ja tasa-arvo-osasto / TTO, Toimintapolitiikkayksikkö / TY 0295163325