List of topical issues
Photo: Vesa Laitinen

Rehabilitees participating in work trials under the earnings-related pension scheme have fairly positive experiences of rehabilitation planning and cooperation with, for example, occupational health care or the employer. Issues to develop include individual support, timing of rehabilitation and discussions on the possibilities of employment after the work trial. This is evident in a survey by the Finnish Centre for Pensions that is based on interviews of rehabilitees participating in work trials.

The interviewees had varied experiences, but most were satisfied with their rehabilitation plan and felt that the work trial was a significant opportunity to receive support in finding work after rehabilitation. Rehabilitation under the earnings-related pension scheme is still fairly unfamiliar among employees and many employers. Hence, more information and support in seeking and planning rehabilitation is needed. 

Individual support emphasised

The interviewees wished for more individual support, particularly in situations where a work coach or other professional assistant provided by the pension provider or occupational health care is unavailable. 

“It’s essential to consider how the planning of rehabilitation within the earnings-related pension scheme can be developed in a direction that takes into consideration various individual life situations”, says Senior Researcher Jyri Liukko (Finnish Centre for Pensions). 

Correct timing of rehabilitation a challenge

It is also important to pay special attention to the timing of rehabilitation. Most interviewees were motivated and wanted to return to work, but the group included also some exceptions. Motivation was affected by, among other things, a perceived correctly timed rehabilitation. 

“There were rehabilitees among the respondents who felt that their work trials began too late and others who felt that they started too early in the rehabilitation process. Around half of the rehabilitees felt that the work trials began at the right time.” 

Discussion about employment possibilities important

A third issue that was brought forth in the interviews was the importance of detailed discussions of the oppurtunities to be employed after the work trial as part of the rehabilitation planning. 

“There was much uncertainty about employment and the time after the work trial. From the rehabilitees’ point of view, improving only the general employment possibilities via a work trial is not always enough. The rehabilitees would like the opportunity to continue working at the place of the work trial. Based on the interviews, the time after the work trial is not always discussed enough. 

More extensive use of early support

For most interviewees, the problems with work ability began years before they sought rehabilitation under the earnings-related pension scheme. Many of them had some experience of early support means such as adjusted working hours, tools or tasks. However, early intervention at workplaces could be utilised more extensively. 

“Not a single rehabilitee had experienced an early support work trial that can be prescribed by occupational health care. This could have been beneficial for at least some of the rehabilitees and could have supported their ability to work”, Liukko points out. 

This study is the first part in a wider research project which follows the interviewed rehabilitees in the different stages of and after the completion of their rehabilitation process. 

Finnish Centre for Pensions – Central body of and expert on statutory earnings-related pensions