A leave of absence due to illness that lasts for more than 6 weeks is considered Long-Term Sick Leave. This is when attempts need to be made to start a re-integration process.
Long term disability
Usually an employee that has called in sick will return to his or her duties within a few days. In some cases however the employee is not able to resume work and it becomes apparent that most likely it might take weeks or even more before the employee can return to work. In case of certain diseases or serious injury due to an accident, it is predictable from the start that the employee will most likely never be able to resume his or her duties in the current job.
Long-term disability is unpleasant for all involved. It is most certainly unpleasant for the employee, but also unpleasant for the employer who is missing an important link for his organization. This is why attempts to reduce the duration of the absence should be made as soon as possible.
Both the employer as well as the employee carry the responsability for cooperating in and facilitating of a swift return of the employee to his or her duties.
Re-integration describes the process of trying to have an employee resume his or her duties for the current job. If it is not possible to return to own work performing current duties, attempts should be made to provide a different function with adapted duties for the same employer. If employment for the current organization is no longer possible, attempts should be made to re-integrate an employee in a different job, with adapted duties, working for a different employer.
Analysis of the problem
Within the first 6 weeks of absence a licensed Physician In Occupational Health or Insurance Medicine will provide a first analysis of the medical state the employee is in. A first prognosis will be given on duration of absence and possible permanent disabilities. In other words a prediction will be made as to whether the employee is expected to be able to fully resume his or her own duties in due time, or if employer is to consider the fact that employee will no longer be able to perform own duties and will need adaptations to task or workload.
Under medical guidance of the company doctor and when needed an Occupational Health Expert, the employer in collaboration with the employee will now draw a plan of approach. The plan of approach will describe the steps to take in having the employee return to his or her (adapted) duties in a safe and responsable way.
In cases where, despite all efforts made by both employer as well as employee, attempts to re-integrate an employee back to work fail, a more in-depth analysis of the problem and possible solutions to it is to be made.
If the long-term disability can not be ended by having an employee return to his or her own duties within his or her own job, or when it does not seem possible to offer the employee adequate adapted duties, a Re-Examination (Herkeuring / VA-AD) is the best option.
A Re-Examination is an extensive and detailed medical examination that requires the expertise of both a Physician in Occupational Health or Insurance Medicine as well as a registered Occupational Health Expert. This Re-Examination will offer a clear and detailed list of an employees’ remaining limitations and (dis)abilities.
As an employer you find yourself in a position where one of your employees suffers permanent disability or impairment and you are willing to offer this employee a different function within your organization with different duties. How do you ’translate’ these disabilities or impairments into a suitable function within your organization?
Our registered Occupational Health Expert will be more than glad to meet with you and together with the employee evaluate what possibilities there are within your organization for finding your employee a suitable adapted function. Such an evaluation is called a Function Ability Evaluation.
An effective approach for long-term disabilty is very different from the approach for short-term sick leave. In general it can be concluded that, the longer a person is away from the workplace, the harder it becomes to retun to it. This is why it is of the utmost importance to recognize long-term disability at an early stage and a plan of approach is to be drawn as early as within the first few weeks of absence!