Employment Committee MEPs set out measures against long-term work absence 


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People with disabilities, chronic diseases or recovering from injury should be able to stay in the workplace or reintegrate into the job market, with the help of tailored measures.

Employment and Social Affairs Committee MEPs unanimously adopted today a set of measures they believe the European Commission and member states should work on in order to retain and reintegrate workers into the workplace who suffer from various chronic conditions or injuries and foster active aging.


MEPs stress that reintegrating workers into quality employment, as well as enabling them to stay active until retirement age and beyond if they so wish, is beneficial for their psychosocial wellbeing, and helps to retain skills that would otherwise be lost. They also highlight the economic benefits, such as reducing costs for companies and making pensions and social security systems more sustainable for future generations.


In the text adopted on Thursday, Employment Committee MEPs propose to:


  • improve how absences due to sickness are managed in member states;
  • make workplaces more adaptable to chronic conditions and disabilities by modifying tasks, equipment and working time (teleworking, flexitime, reduced working hours);
  • make workplaces more adaptable through life-long learning and skills development programmes (including digital skills);
  • raise awareness and address potential psychological barriers to return to work, such as work-related stress or mental health stigma;
  • develop and implement a programme for systematic monitoring and support for workers affected by psychosocial risks, such as depression or burnout;
  • use evidence-based policy as a standard practice and to form the basis of return-to-work approaches;
  • provide external technical support and guidance for SMEs and micro-enterprises with limited experience in occupational rehabilitation and return-to- work measures;
  • beef up the case management approach in reintegration programmes with individually designed and integrated support from social workers or designated counsellors to keep in contact with workers during their absence;
  • develop information-sharing platforms to update companies and concerned persons about existing incentives and their rights.


The plenary vote is expected to take place during the following sessions in July or September.