Especially if an employee has been away from work for a prolonged period of time, being 100% fit does not automatically mean you are also 100% fit for work.
An employee that has been absent from work due to illness for a prolonged period of time will sooner or later have to try to start work again. The process of returning back to the job in a responsible, safe and healthy way is called re-integration.
Sometimes re-integration of an employee that has been sick or was involved in an accident can be possible with the current employer, but sometimes it is necessary to find a suitable (adapted job) withinn an other organization.
A Physician licensed in Occupational Health or Insurance Medicine will draft a list of remaining capabilities of the employee and will determine whether the employee should still bbe able to perform his or her original duties in the original job, or if adaptations need to be made to job-content and workload. This is documented in a report that is sent to the employer together with an advice on re-integration for the involved employee.
In cases where it is difficult for the employer to ’translate’ this description of remaining capabilities into a suitable job or function, the intervention of a registered Occupational Health Expert may be needed. The expert will set up a list of remaining disabilities and together with employee and employer will evaluate the possibilities for an adapted function within the current company.
Cancer and Work
People who are diagnosed with cancer often disappear from the scene for extended periods of time. Given that treatment of this life-threatening disease has improved in recent years, (former) patients are increasingly returning to the work floor. Many of them will suffer after-effects from the disease, including fatigue and depression, but also incomprehension from colleagues or supervisors. An occupational physician should be called in to translate the oncologist’s advice into an appropriate work situation. To ensure full rehabilitation and effective after-care, it is important to factor in a person’s labor and work duties and provide the necessary counseling in these areas. It proves difficult for employers and employees to talk about the best way to adapt the work. In practice, the disease turns out to be an emotionally charged subject that people have a hard time talking about. Rehabilitation may take quite a while, and some employees will hardly start to feel better for a long time. In addition, a former patient may be hit again by the same disease, an experience that is both uncomfortable and complicated.
The oncologist and the oncological physician will see to it that medical therapy, radiation, or chemotherapy is provided. The occupational physicist will assess together with the patient what the disease means for his or her (future) acceptable workload. Patients want to know what options they have to continue working during treatment. It is up to the occupational physician to determine the type of work the employee is able to perform. An increasing number of people are surviving the disease and are able to resume their former lives. In the past, most of them would not consider going back to work. Today, a person with cancer has a great chance of returning into society and onto the work floor. In such cases, a key question will be: "How do I pick up the threads?" The occupational physicist will help these people to continue performing as best they can. Medwork helps patients cope with fatigue and insecurity about their own bodies, but also with practical matters, such as legislation on reintegration.