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Work disability negotiations: supervisors' view of work disability and collaboration with occupational health services

Work disability negotiations: supervisors' view of work disability and collaboration with occupational health services

Disability and Rehabilitation 41(17): 2015-2025

Purpose: To introduce the Finnish practice of collaboration aiming to enhance work participation, to ask supervisors about its reasons and usefulness, to study supervisors' needs when they face work disability, and to compare the experiences of supervisors whose profiles differ. Materials and methods: An online questionnaire based on the Finnish practice of collaboration between supervisor and occupational health services (OHS) went to supervisors in six public and private organizations. A total of 254 supervisors responded, of whom, 133 (52%) had collaborated in work disability negotiations, representing a wide variety with differing professional profiles. Results: In their role of managing work disability, supervisors appeared to benefit from three factors: an explicit company disability management (DM) policy, supervisors' training in DM, and collaboration with OHS. Reasons for work disability negotiations were long or repeated sick-leaves and reduced work performance. Expectations for occupational health consultations focused on finding vocational solutions and on obtaining information. Supervisors assessed the outcomes of collaboration as both vocational and medical. Supervisors with differing professional profiles prioritized slightly different aspects in collaboration. Conclusions: Collaboration with OHS is an important option for supervisors to enhance work modifications and the work participation of employees with work disability. Implications for Rehabilitation Work disability negotiation between supervisor, employee, and occupational health services (OHS) is an effective method to enhance work participation. Collaboration with occupational health can advance work modifications and also lead to medical procedures to improve work performance. Supervisor training, companies' explicit disability management policy, and collaboration with OHSs all advance employee's work participation. Collaboration with OHSs may serve as training for supervisors in their responsibility to support work participation.

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Accession: 059554414

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PMID: 29587552

DOI: 10.1080/09638288.2018.1455112

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