Introduction Since 2002, long-term absenteeism in Belgium has steadily increased each year. In 2016, 5.13% of the Belgian working population was on sickness absence for >1 month. In Belgium, sickness-absence benefits are paid by the employer in the first month and subsequently by social security. To increase the RTW chances among employees with long-term absenteeism, Mensura Occupational Health Services (OHS) developed return calls.
Methods Mensura OHS developed the following procedure:
Companies with long–term absentee employees complete an online intake form for each employee on long–term absence (>1 month).
A trained professional (nurse) from Mensura OHS calls the employees on long–term sickness absence and uses a telephone protocol to collect data on their sickness–absence reasons and desire to receive RTW support. Employees willing to receive support from Mensura OHS are referred to voluntary consultations with an occupational physician (OP).
The OP evaluates the possibility of starting a reintegration program or further sickness absence.
The employer receives individual and group reports (in accordance with confidentiality regulations and privacy–protection laws), including recommendations. Mensura OHS reviews the results and discusses possible solutions with the employer.
Results By the end of 2017, return calls will be evaluated by:
Comparing the anticipated sick leave date with the actual return to work date
Mapping the long–term evolution of absenteeism in companies
By the ICOH 2018 Congress, preliminary results will be available.
Discussion Return calls can establish a proactive, constructive approach to increase the chances of successful reintegration of employees on sick absence. The results may inform targeted strategic-policy advice to reduce and prevent long-term absenteeism in companies.
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