Commissioner to examine rehabilitation of incapacitated employees

In June 1999, the Swedish government appointed a special commissioner with the task of analysing the issue of rehabilitation of incapacitated employees.

The issue of the rehabilitation of workers who have become incapacitated has been the subject of a number of special commissions in recent years, and on 3 June 1999 another commissioner - Gerhard Larsson, the former head of Samhall, a governmental rehabilitation organisation - was asked to study and analyse the situation. Since 1992, the main responsibility for the rehabilitation of employees has been placed on employers, and several changes have been made to the regulations since then. For example, the rules on the costs of rehabilitation and sick leave have been altered, as has the system for cooperation between employers and the local social insurance office and other authorities. In August 1998, a government committee proposed a clarification of employers' responsibilities (SE9810114F).

Thus, for many reasons it has been difficult to make the 1992 reform work according to the intentions of the legislators. Rehabilitation measures are often started too late, as employers do not fulfil their duties to investigate the worker's need for rehabilitation. The effects of the measures taken are not evident, the government argues in the terms of reference it has given the new commissioner (direktiv 1999:44 Den arbetslivsinriktade rehabiliteringen). According to these terms, the commissioner is to analyse the entire rehabilitation process and draw up a "platform" of priorities, clarifying which types of employee will be subject to rehabilitation.

Discussing priorities within the social insurance system is not uncontroversial, since the system is of basic importance in the Swedish welfare state. When it comes to the rehabilitation of employees however, a discussion of priorities is nevertheless necessary, the government states. For example, social insurance officers every day make selective decisions and choose measures, and there is no common ground for such decisions. Drawing up a platform of priorities might be a way towards a more fair and equal handling of rehabilitation cases.

The commissioner will also look into the boundaries between rehabilitation in working life and other kinds of rehabilitation, and propose an effective division of responsibilities between authorities involved. His work is to be carried out before 1 July 2000.

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