Seminar Presentation 3-3

3-3 (Presentation within Topical Seminar 3):
Worker responsibilities in work disability prevention, should they? Work re-integration professional norms (part II)

Presented by: Karin Maiwald

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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.



In disability management, workers are encouraged to take responsibility in early return-to-work (RTW) and get involved in RTW planning. It is assumed that this helps to realize pointed support in RTW. In the healthcare sector in British Columbia (BC), Canada, the work re-integration professional is given the responsibility to prepare a RTW plan for a worker who reported sick and to get the worker perspectives on the plan. However, we do not know exactly what professionals expect of the workers. The research question was: 'When executing the BC Healthcare RTW policy, what do the re-integration professionals expect from the workers involved?'


A social-constructivist perspective was taken, aiming to show the processes of giving meaning to the policy in the work context. We conducted 9 interviews with the professionals who were each involved in the RTW process of various re-integrating workers at different worksites within one healthcare organization. We then analyzed how the professionals interpreted the policy and what problems they experienced in implementing the RTW policy.


Professionals expect input and consent from the workers, that they explain well their condition and ability in contact moments, and that they bring in their points effectively in group meetings with the managers. However, in practice, the content of views by workers is not a consistent part to create plans on. Also, workers cannot fully explain problems nor defend their position in group meetings. It is thus difficult for professionals to unite the different perspectives in one plan. Needing consent at a set moment creates tension in the context of the timelines of the policy. Contact moments with professionals are not fruitful as workers hesitate to bring in their views.


Professionals have expectations of workers that are in line with the policy, but do not seem realistic. Workers cannot always give steadfast input, they do not always dare to bring in their views in meetings and give consent (because legal status plans), and they are uncertain regarding the course of their illness.