Presentation W P13

W P13 (Poster Presentation):
Does bipartite return-to-work policy work? An evaluation based on stakeholders’ experiences in a Canadian healthcare setting

Presented by: Karin Maiwald

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Authors

Maiwald K1,2, Meershoek A3, de Rijk A1, Nijhuis FNJ4

  1. CAPHRI School for Public Health and Primary Care, Department of Social Medicine, Faculty of Health, Medicine and Life Sciences, Maastricht University, the Netherlands
  2. Work-Health Connexion Consulting, Nelson, Canada
  3. CAPHRI School for Public Health and Primary Care, Department of Health Ethics and Society, Faculty of Health, Medicine and Life Sciences, Maastricht University, the Netherlands
  4. CAPHRI School for Public Health and Primary Care, Department of Work and Social Psychology, Faculty of Psychology, Maastricht University, the Netherlands.

Abstract

Background

When developing return-to-work (RTW) policies, taking the employer and worker perspectives into account is firmly believed to increase effectiveness. In the healthcare sector in British Columbia (BC), Canada, such a bipartite policymaking approach is used by involving employer and worker (trade union) representatives. The aim of our study was to investigate to what extent this bipartite agreed-upon BC Healthcare RTW policy was experienced as successful by the diverse stakeholders (workers, managers, work re-integration professionals) and what the differences in experiences are.

Methods

A qualitative approach was chosen to be able to study the perspectives in-depth and in context. Purposive sampling strategies were used to select 14 workers, 10 managers and 9 re-integration professionals. Following ethnographic methodologies we analyzed their perceptions and experiences. Our interpretative analyses focused on the roles that the policy, legislation, organization characteristics and the individual worker’s contexts played in the RTW process.

Results

What we found is that all the stakeholders who were expected to execute the bipartite RTW policy struggled with it in practice. They found this policy not workable to effectively deal with capricious RTW process. That they can do the responsibility given is not secured. We found that in RTW trajectories workers have to formal agree with RTW plans at moments they are not able to oversee developments of the health complaints. Further, the managers have to play a key role in RTW trajectories but feel not able to influence plans and lack needed support over time. Moreover, the re-integration professionals struggle to translate the different perspectives of workers and managers into one individual plan.

Conclusions

We conclude that the bipartite policymaking approach did not lead to a policy that is experienced as effective and feasible. In order to improve the RTW policy, the policy-makers not only have to safeguard employer and worker rights and responsibilities, but also have to consider how incentive structures might yield adverse effects. The re-integration professionals need to have more discretionary space and further professional training to actually be able to make feasible re-integration plans.

Schedule Details

Wednesday October 1
13:00 - 14:00 Poster Viewing
Session: Policy / theory