Excellence in administration

  • ISSA Guidelines:
  • Return to Work and Reintegration

Excellence in administration

  • ISSA Guidelines:
  • Return to Work and Reintegration

Return to Work and Reintegration -
Return to Work Framework

Social security institutions around the world are most often engaged in one of three broad scopes of activity, as a provider of:

  • Income support of last resort for persons with disabilities;
  • Statutory disability insurance for non-occupational injuries and disabilities;
  • Legislative compensation as a consequence of occupational injuries and disabilities.

A consistent organizational priority for social security institutions is the objective of reducing the number of persons with disabilities “in the system” and decreasing the cases of early invalidity.

This usually drives a concurrent approach, namely reducing the number of persons with a disability collecting benefits, through a range of rehabilitation measures designed to facilitate the re-entry of those people into the labour market along with other measures designed to reduce the system entry rate through optimization and support for job retention strategies which will keep a person attached to their employer in spite of having suffered a disabling condition.

These strategies, while clearly similar in terms of economic, social and societal objectives, require a substantially differentiated individual, organizational and systems approach.

Global evidence has clearly documented that, while most desirable, the efforts related to increasing renewed labour market attachment for those people currently receiving disability benefits are extremely costly and often have limited success.

Therefore, the majority of strategies must be directed at maintaining workforce attachment for those who have acquired a disabling injury or illness and are at risk of losing their employment, with all the attendant economic, social and psychological consequences.

The paradigm shift from payer to player in modern social security could be assured by using the ISSA Guidelines on Return to Work and Reintegration, not only as a benefit provider but also as the employer of the staff of a social security institution. This method increases the awareness and confidence of staff in the relevance of clients returning to work.

Return to work actors

Return to work for employees who acquire or develop a disabling condition, regardless of causation, and are at risk of losing their employment, is governed through a range of diverse approaches around the world.

These include, but are not limited to, statutory re-employment obligations for employers, prescribed under workers’ compensation legislation, for employees with occupational injuries or diseases; state and national re-employment obligations often administered under labour/human rights or other legislative statutes and employment obligations defined through court decisions.

A number of jurisdictions have also introduced hybrid models where, in the absence of a statutory re-employment obligation for employers, workplaces are required to maintain dedicated return-to-work programmes designed to maximize job retention for ill or injured employees.

Another model, principally found under workers’ compensation schemes, includes the application of financial penalties/incentives on employers in order to motivate efforts towards better return-to-work outcomes.

A core and central theme across all statutory approaches applied towards maintaining effective job retention for injured/ill employees is the responsibility and role of the employer.

This is critical for a range of reasons, principally due to the fact that employees who lose attachment to their pre-disability employer and enter a social security system are much less likely to re-enter the labour market in the long term, and employers often have much vested financial/organizational interest in maintaining the employment relationship with employees who have acquired a disabling condition.

While, across all jurisdictions, employers play the key role in efforts aimed at maximizing job retention and subsequently reduce the inflow into various social security systems, the practical implementation of these efforts generally involves return-to-work professionals employed either directly by the employer, contracted to the employer through third party service providers (often utilized by small and medium-sized workplaces) or made available to the employer through the social security providers.