What does the reintegration assessment by the prevention advisor-occupational health physician look like?

The assessment for the possible reintegration of an employee on long-term absence due to illness is carried out by the prevention advisor-occupational health physician (PA-OHP). The assessment process takes place in several stages and must be finalised within 40 days following receipt of the request for reintegration. The subsequent steps to be taken will depend on the outcome of the assessment, as shown in the overview below.

The assessment takes place in several stages and must be finalised within 40 days following receipt of the request for reintegration.

  1. First, the PA-OHP will determine whether or not the employee can resume the agreed duties – possibly with restrictions – after a certain period of time. The employee’s remaining work capacity is a key factor to be considered with regard to his or her potential reintegration in the workforce.
     
  2. If consented by the employee, the PA-OHP can consult the treating physician, the advisory physician or any other prevention advisor/person who could contribute to a successful return to work.
     
  3. The PA-OHP will examine the employee’s job position and work environment.
     
  4. All findings are documented in a report and added to the employee’s health file.
     
  5. The PA-OHP will then write down his or her decision on the reintegration assessment form. The form is then sent to the employer and the employee, and is also added to the employee’s health file.

What are the possible decisions and what does each decision mean?

There are five possible scenarios, depending on a potential return to work and any restricted work or other work duties.

  1. The employee can resume the agreed-upon work duties after some time. Restricted work or other work duties can be carried out in the interim.
    • The modalities for restricted work or other work duties, as well as a timeframe for the next assessment, are established by the PA-OHP.
    • You must draw up a reintegration plan within 55 business days (see below).
       
  2. The employee can resume the agreed duties after some time. Restricted work or other work duties cannot be carried out in the interim.
    • The PA-OHP establishes a timeframe for the next assessment.
    • The PA-OHP notifies the advisory physician.
       
  3. The employee is permanently incapable of resuming the agreed duties. However, restricted work or other work duties with the same employer can be carried out.
    • The modalities for restricted work or other work duties are established by the PA-OHP.
    • You must draw up a reintegration plan within 12 months (see below).
       
  4. The employee is permanently incapable of resuming the agreed duties and is not capable of carrying out restricted work or other work duties.
    • The PA-OHP notifies the advisory physician. The reintegration process is terminated.
       
  5. The PA-OHP decides that due to medical reasons, it is not the right time to initiate the reintegration process
    • Reassessment by the PA-OHP every 2 months.
    • The PA-OHP notifies the advisory physician.

What if the employee disagrees with the reintegration assessment?

The employee can appeal the decision of the PA-OHP that he or she is permanently incapable of resuming the agreed duties (scenarios 3 and 4 above).

To do so, the employee must send a registered letter to the relevant physician/inspector of the general directorate for the monitoring of well-being in the workplace. The employee must also notify their employer about the appeal.

Within 31 business days following receipt of the appeal, the physician/inspector, the treating physician and the PA-OHP must make a decision on the appeal by majority vote. If they decide to dismiss the appeal, then you, as the employer, will have to draw up a reintegration plan, or – by invoking force majeure – opt for dismissal.

This means that terminating the employment agreement due to force majeure in the event of the employee’s permanent incapacity to work is only possible after all the steps of the reintegration process have been completed, including the appeal procedure. The occupational health physician must verify each time whether restricted work or other work duties are an option with the same employer.

What about reintegration and labour law?

Specific situations may occur during the performance of restricted work or other work duties that may affect the employment relationship. To safeguard the legal rights of all parties, the following provisions have been made:

  • Your employee’s incapacity to work returns during the performance of the restricted work or other work duties.
    If this is the case, then guaranteed wages will not need to be paid again.
     
  • The employment agreement is terminated during the employee’s performance of the restricted work or other work duties.
    Compensation for dismissal is calculated based on the wages payable under the initial employment agreement.