BACKGROUND: In Canada and other countries, sickness-based absences among workers is an economic and sociological problem. Return-to-work (RTW) policy developed by both employer and worker' representatives (that is, bipartite policy) is preferred to tackle this problem. OBJECTIVE: The intent was to examine how this bipartite agreed-upon RTW policy works from the perspective of occupational health professionals (those who deliver RTW services to workers with temporary or permanent disabilities) in a public healthcare organization in Canada. METHODS: In-depth interviews were held with 9 occupational health professionals and transcribed verbatim. A qualitative, social constructivist, analysis was completed. RESULTS: The occupational health professionals experienced four main problems: 1) timing and content of physicians' medical advice cannot be trusted as a basis for RTW plans; 2) legal status of the plans and thus needing workers' consent and managers' approval can create tension, conflict and delays; 3) limited input and thus little fruitful inference in transdisciplinary meetings at the workplace; and yet 4) the professionals can be called to account for plans. CONCLUSIONS: Bipartite representation in developing RTW policy does not entirely delete bottlenecks in executing the policy. Occupational health professionals should be offered more influence and their professionalism needs to be enhanced.
|Journal||WORK-A Journal of Prevention Assessment & Rehabilitation|
|Publication status||Published - 2016|
- Sickness absence
- return-to-work policy
- discretionary space
- professionals' perspective