Sickness, Disability and Work: Breaking the Barriers (Vol. 3)

Denmark, Finland, Ireland and the Netherlands

image of Sickness, Disability and Work: Breaking the Barriers (Vol. 3)
Too many workers leave the labour market permanently due to health problems, and yet too many people with a disabling condition are denied the opportunity to work. This third report in the OECD series Sickness, Disability and Work explores the possible factors behind this paradox. It looks specifically at the cases of Denmark, Finland, Ireland and the Netherlands, and highlights the roles of institutions and policies. A range of reform recommendations is put forward to deal with specific challenges facing the four countries.

English Also available in: French

Into and Off Benefit

The Role of the State

Early action is important to avoid that health conditions develop into more serious problems, eventually leading to a disability benefit claim. Denmark and the Netherlands have introduced guidelines for sickness absence monitoring of workers. Such monitoring is lacking in Finland and Ireland. In addition, countries need to do more to identify and assist people with health problems when they are not regularly employed, or unemployed. The Netherlands is the only country where specific guidelines have been set up recently to address health-related work barriers of this group. At the same time, effective re-integration measures are needed as people with disabilities experience substantial difficulties to exit disability benefits and to find sustainable employment. Denmark has taken big steps in promoting employment in the regular labour market through the use of wage-subsidies, but more can be done to prevent misuse of these “flex-jobs”. On the contrary, a large proportion of people with health problems in the Netherlands remain on sheltered employment. Ireland and Finland lack systematic referral to employment services which limits the chances of activation for people with disabilities. 


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