Objectives: Working age disability is a major challenge for policymakers in European countries. This pertains to both occupational reintegration and social benefits for work incapacity. In many states reforms have been initiated aimed at reducing disability scheme inflow and fostering return to work. Our study was motivated by the question as to which aspects of these reforms seem to have been effective.
Methods: Three different approaches were utilized: case vignettes, interviews and expert workshops in the respective countries (Netherlands and Germany in 2012; Finland in 2015), and a systematic search for relevant studies on occupational reintegration was performed.
Results: We found considerable differences as to the assessment of work incapacity and resulting monetary benefits in the three countries. Also, organisation and practices of occupational reintegration vary from one country to another. Major differences concern (1) the timing of interventions, (2) employer responsibility and workplace involvement, (3) incentives and sanctions and (4) organisational and procedural issues.
Conclusions: Our results may partly explain why some reform strategies have been more successful than others, and thus contribute to the further development of social and labour policies in Europe.
Keywords: Finland; Germany; Long-term ill or disabled; Policies and practices in the Netherlands; Return to work efforts; Social security.