Seminar Presentation 3-2

3-2 (Presentation within Topical Seminar 3):
Workers’ responsibilities in work disability prevention, should they? Employer norms (part I)

Presented by: Nicole Hoefsmit

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Authors

Hoefsmit N1, de Rijk A1, Houkes I1

  1. CAPHRI, School for Public Health and Primary Care, Department of Social Medicine, Faculty of Health, Medicine and Life Sciences, Maastricht University, the Netherlands

Abstract

Background

Employers increasingly point at the workers’ own responsibility in tertiary work disability prevention, i.e. sick leave (SL) and return to work (RTW). This responsibility is anchored in Dutch legislation, which requires workers to cooperate with their employers during two years of SL. However, we do not know exactly what employers expect of their workers. Therefore our research question was: ‘In what ways do employers expect workers to take responsibility in tertiary work disability prevention?’

Methods

In-depth interviews (8 Dutch employer representatives, i.e. HR professionals) were conducted in 2009 and analyzed using an interpretative approach.

Results

First, employers considered it the workers’ responsibility to seek treatment for their health problems. Second, they expected workers to aim for RTW during (instead of after) medical recovery. Some employers noted to tell workers about their intentions to ask the social insurance office for permission to stop wage payment if the workers would not put more effort in RTW after one year of SL. Third, employers expected workers to participate in the employers’ initiatives for cooperation such as planning meetings between the workers and the employers. They used legislation to convince workers of the necessity of these meetings. Employers also expected workers to inform them about RTW possibilities. Finally, when workers had not yet resumed work after one year of SL, employers considered it their own (and not the workers') responsibility to decide about RTW. In this case, the employers expected workers to accept their decision.

Conclusions

The employers expected workers to actively pursue RTW (besides medical recovery) and used legislation to convince workers of doing this.