Ways of adapting work for the employer

If your employee’s illness or disability prevents them from working, you can make adjustments at the workplace. Adjustments refer to changes at work in which your employee’s job description is modified to better correspond to and support their expertise and work ability.

If you notice that your employee’s work ability has deteriorated or the amount of their sickness absence exceeds the sickness absence limit (more than 90 days), it is your responsibility to raise the matter with your employee. Your employee may also raise the matter if they cannot perform their current tasks in the same way as before.

Early support discussions, occupational health discussions and assessment of work ability

You can have an early support conversation with your employee to find solutions to support their work ability. It is a good idea to continue discussing the situation in the occupational health discussions carried out as part of occupational health care.

The Occupational Health Discussion – Solutions for Work learning programme at the Finnish Institute of Occupational Health has sections for employees, supervisors and occupational health care providers which provide support for conducting occupational health discussions. Please also refer to the Occupational Health Discussion Guide of the Finnish Institute of Occupational Health, which contains instructions for preparing for an occupational health discussion, information on livelihoods, and examples of work adaptation.

In addition to occupational health discussions, you can refer your employee for an assessment of work ability if they experience difficulties in their work performance that you cannot resolve by your own means at the workplace. This involves assessing their ability to perform their current tasks, the development of their functional and work abilities, and their capacity to function in working life. Your occupational health physician is often the best expert for assessing work ability, as they have information about the conditions in the workplace.

Plan the adjustments

Agree with your employee on the necessary job changes and adjustments. You should also make a written agreement on them. In addition, agree when the situation will be re-evaluated together with the employee and occupational health care provider.

Working hours arrangements

When you agree on working time arrangements with your employee, they gain flexibility for their daily work.

You can agree on flexible working hours with your employees as long as the arrangement complies with the Working Hours Act and your sectoral collective agreement. Your employees are therefore able to decide, within certain limits, on the start and end times of their workday.

Your employees can also work part-time. Possible alternatives include part-time pension, partial disability pension, discretionary part-time work and part-time parental leave as part of family leave.

Remote work is work that your employee does either at home or in another agreed location outside the actual workplace. Remote work can be either full-time or part-time. In the latter case, the employee works part of the week remotely and part of the week as normal at the workplace. Your employee can also work remotely on a one-off basis for a separately agreed period of time.

Changes to work tasks

Adjusting work tasks and work processes to fit an employee’s work ability gives them more capacity to work better at different stages of life.

You can reorganise your employees’ work tasks within the workplace or adjust their working hours and forms of work. You can together make either temporary or permanent changes to the division of labour. Seek to agree on the changes together with the entire work community.

You can also use tools such as work analysis to customise the work tasks.

Job rotation, on the other hand, involves moving your employee to other activities or units at the workplace for a fixed period of time, after which they return to their previous assignment. The aim of job rotation may be to increase an employee’s well-being at work or to boost their motivation.

You can use the Ratko method to format and organise work. The method allows you to reorganise tasks in your work community. You’ll break down the work tasks of everyone involved. From the tasks that fall outside your employees’ core competence and ones they are used to performing alongside their own core tasks, you’ll create a completely new set of tasks. You can formulate this new set of tasks in a way that for example matches the work ability of an employee with partial work ability.

You can use the Ratko method for new hires and existing employees. You can also get expert help in implementing the method.

Changes in the working environment and accessibility

The target working environment is one which values equality and approachability and which feels comfortable for all your employees.

If an employee’s functional ability is impaired due to injury or illness, they can be supported with assistive devices, for example. Introducing the use of such devices is a personalised part of the rehabilitation or treatment process. Primary health care can provide your employee with the most common aids that support mobility, daily activities and sensory functions. A number of actors are involved in arranging the use of these aids, however, and each of these has different responsibilities.

If your employee is unable to cope with certain activities due to injury or illness, they may need personal help. It is the responsibility of the municipality to arrange such assistance, but this process also takes into account the employee’s own opinions, wishes, life situation and particular need for assistance.

If your employee needs interpretation due to hearing loss or a sight or speech disability and they live in Finland and have access to some method of communication, they can use Kela’s interpreter service for the disabled.

You as an employer must develop working conditions and ways of working that promote equality. If you regularly employ at least 30 people, you must have a plan of measures for promoting equality. You must address the promotion measures and their effectiveness with your staff or their representatives.

If a new or current employee of yours has a disability or illness and coping with work tasks requires, for example, purchasing tools or making changes at the workplace, you can apply for a subsidy for arranging working conditions from the TE Office or the local government employment pilot.

 

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