It is essential that social security institutions engaged in the promotion, advocacy and support of effective return-to-work programmes include a broad range of institutional and individual stakeholders in this process. While they are often constrained through their respective legislative frameworks, which may not support return-to-work processes, this should not prevent them from trying to obtain better return-to-work outcomes by learning from a broad range of national and international experiences which have often led to sustainable structural outcomes. Many social security institutions have also succeeded in strategically influencing return-to-work outcomes, either through influencing legislative structures within their jurisdictions or taking individualized organizational steps through the provision of targeted support services.
Five essential guidelines for social security institutions are presented in this regard:
- The stakeholders;
- Legal and policy basis;
- Working within the legal framework;
- Understanding and learning from international good practice;
- Influencing the system.
The board and management play crucial roles in establishing a compliant and effective return-to-work system.
The guidelines should be followed using a “top-down” approach which encourages ownership of their inherent values so that they are simultaneously accepted throughout the organization.
An overall principle which is essential for return-to-work success is that the person concerned has access to the rights described in the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. The return to work should always be a transparent process, as this will lead to acceptance and confidence. Without this kind of agreement on an individual and institutional level, particularly in disability organizations and trade unions, return-to-work programmes will be neither efficient nor effective.