Ways of Adapting Work to Fit the Employee
If issues such as illness or disability prevent you from doing your work, you can make adjustments at your workplace. Adjustments refer to changes at work in which your job description is modified to better correspond to and support your expertise and work ability.
Talk to your supervisor if your work ability deteriorates, if you are not performing your current work duties in the same way as before, or if your sickness absence exceeds the sickness absence limit (more than 90 days). Your supervisor also has a responsibility to raise the issue if they notice that your ability to work has deteriorated.
Early support discussions, occupational health discussions and assessment of work ability
You can have an early support conversation with your supervisor in order to find solutions to support your work ability. It is a good idea to continue discussing your 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, your supervisor can refer you for an assessment of work ability if you experience difficulties in your work performance that you cannot resolve by your own means at the workplace. This involves assessing your ability to perform your current tasks, the development of your functional and work abilities, and your capacity to function in working life. One’s own 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 supervisor 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 your supervisor and occupational health care provider.
Working hours arrangements
When you agree on working time arrangements with your employer, you gain flexibility for your daily work.
Flexible working hours can be agreed at your workplace as long as the arrangement complies with the Working Hours Act and your sectoral collective agreement. You are therefore able to decide, within certain limits, on the start and end times of your workday.
You can also work part-time. Possible alternatives include a 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 you do 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, you work part of the week remotely and part of the week as normal at the workplace. You can also work remotely on a one-off basis for a separately agreed period of time.
Changes to work tasks
Adjusting your work tasks and work processes to fit your work ability gives you more capacity to work better at different stages of life.
The employer can reorganise your work tasks within the workplace or adjust your 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 your work tasks.
Job rotation, on the other hand, involves moving to other activities or units at your workplace for a fixed period of time, after which you return to your previous job. The aim of job rotation may be to increase your well-being at work or to boost your motivation.
Changes in the working environment and accessibility
The target working environment is one which values equality and approachability and which feels comfortable for all employees.
If your functional ability is impaired due to injury or illness, you can receive support, for example, through the use of assistive devices. Introducing the use of such devices is an personalised part of the rehabilitation or treatment process. Primary health care can provide you 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 you are unable to cope with certain activities due to injury or illness, you may need personal help. It is the responsibility of the municipality to arrange such assistance, but this process also takes into account your own opinions, wishes, life situation and particular need for assistance.
If you need interpretation due to a hearing, sight or speech disability and you live in Finland and have access to some method of communication, you can use Kela’s interpreter service for the disabled.
Your employer must develop working conditions and ways of working that promote equality. An employer who regularly employs at least 30 people must have a plan of measures for promoting equality.
A subsidy may also be granted to the employer for the task of arranging working conditions. Discuss with an expert in your TE Office or municipality of residence whether your employer could receive the subsidy for arranging working conditions if they are paying you a wage. You can also discuss the matter with occupational health care if you are already in work and your current employer has a need to arrange working conditions.
More information on job adjustments can be found on other websites.