Recommendation on measures reimbursed as vocational rehabilitation
The Acts on earnings-related pensions include provisions regarding the right to vocational rehabilitation offered by authorized pension providers. The measures reimbursed as vocational rehabilitation are work trials, job coaching, studying, and start-up grants for self-employment. Their content is described in more detail in this recommendation. In addition, pension providers can commission a service provider to draw up a rehabilitation plan.
Content of this page
As regards measures, pension providers follow practices in line with this recommendation. Pension providers also answer any questions concerning vocational rehabilitation.
A separate recommendation has been drawn up regarding the reimbursement of costs associated with vocational rehabilitation. The recommendation can be read on our page Recommendation on the reimbursement of costs associated with vocational rehabilitation.
Commission given to a service provider
If it is impossible to return to one’s own work and the rehabilitee needs support in drawing up a rehabilitation plan, or the plan needs to be specified, the pension provider can commission the rehabilitation service provider to do that. The pension provider works closely with the service provider during the commission.
The service provider agrees on a time for the initial interview with the rehabilitee as soon as possible. The initial interview charts the rehabilitee’s background information, such as education and work history, limitations imposed by the state of health, and motivation and commitment to vocational rehabilitation.
It is determined, first and foremost, whether the rehabilitee’s previous occupation, skills and education make it possible to find employment suitable for the state of health. Assessment of the overall situation also takes account of the rehabilitee’s age and state of health, and considers the means enabling the rehabilitee to continue working for as long as possible. If employment on the previous basis is not possible through a work trial, training for a new occupation may be considered.
The plan must show how it can reduce, transfer or completely eliminate the threat of disability due to illness.
The service provider monitors the success of the work trial and, if necessary, the progress of studies.
When the commission has ended, whenever needed, the service provider directs the rehabilitee to other services (e.g. TE Services) and writes a final statement.
Returning to work and the modification of duties should be supported at an early stage, often before the criteria for vocational rehabilitation are met.
If the employment relationship is in force and occupational health care recognizes that the client is in need of early support (the ability to work has not deteriorated so much that the conditions for granting vocational rehabilitation are met), occupational health care may suggest that the client apply for a work trial based on the Occupational Health Care Act. The client, their supervisor and occupational health care agree on a work trial in a modified or new job, and occupational health care fills in the KU114 form. The employee attaches the form to the rehabilitation allowance application sent to Kela. Kela’s partial sickness allowance is intended to support the return to work after a period of disability in situations where thereturn to one’s own full-time job has been assessed as possible.
If the employee’s ability to work has deteriorated to such an extent that the criteria for vocational rehabilitation are met, a work trial may be used instead of vocational rehabilitation to support the return to work, to find a new job or to determine the suitability of the sector.
The work trial lasts 3–6 months. When determining the suitability of the sector, the work trial is shorter (1–3 months) and is usually implemented as full-time work.
In general, the aim of the work trial is to return to full-time work, if the person has been engaged in such work. If necessary and for a justified reason, the working hours can be 4 hours a day or 20 hours a week, but the working hours will be increased as the work trial progresses.
As a general rule, annual leave cannot be taken during a work trial.
The work trial can be carried out either with or without pay.
A work trial can also support a self-employed person’s return to work. The work trial is a way of ensuring that the work arrangements are suitable for the state of health when enterprise activities are continued or when a new business is in the start-up phase.
If a work trial granted as rehabilitation reveals that the duties are not suitable for the state of health, the pension provider must be contacted immediately so that other options can be explored.
Rehabilitation service providers are generally used to organizing work trials for self-employed persons in their own companies, and also when employees’ work trials are implemented outside their own workplace.
Work trial plan
A work trial plan must be prepared before the work trial.
The plan must show
- the reasons why a work trial is needed
- the goals of the work trial
- how the work trial and the simultaneous orientation will be carried out
- how the suitability of the duties has been assessed in view of the rehabilitee’s state of health
- the rehabilitee’s long-term possibilities to continue in duties similar to those of the work trial.
- how the work trial is monitored (achievement of goals, success, effects on health).
In the planning phase, it is important to pay attention to what happens after the work trial.Even before the work trial, the possibilities of continuing in the same work must be resolved. If the work trial does not lead to employment, the client is directed to register with TE Services.
Granting a work trial is not appropriate if it is likely that, for health reasons, the employee will not be able to cope with the job very long.
Nor is the work trial intended for arranging temporary part-time work or assessing work capacity.
Work trial with one’s own employer
Work trial involving your own work
When an employee returns to their own job, for example after a long sick leave, their duties and job description are adapted to the state of health.
The employee must be provided with the necessary support and orientation during the work trial so that there are sufficient preconditions for a successful return to work. The work trial must also be followed up with regard to the realization of the goals. Therefore, the active input of occupational health care in work trials is important. Already during the planning, the occupational health care doctor must take a stand on whether the rehabilitee could continue in their own work.
If necessary, the changes or new work arrangements made must also continue after the work trial. Changes in the work that are meant to be temporary can be justified by the expected improvement in the employee’s ability to function and work. If the limitations to functional capacity are permanent, the changes in duties must also be permanent.
The plan must also record the reasons why there is a need to apply for a work trial for the employee’s own work.
A daycare worker who has been on rehabilitation subsidy for less than a year due to recurrent depression. According to assessment made by occupational health care, the employee’s state of health has improved and a return to the person’s own work is realistic. During the work trial, the employee works in the workplace as an extra employee without responsibility for a group of children; in addition, a mentor is designated for the employee. The intention is to raise the working hours gradually, with the goal of full-time work. Monitoring and support have been agreed with both the employer and the occupational health care.
Work trial for new tasks
The aim of the work trial implemented in the new job is to help the employee make the transition to duties that are more suitable for the state of health, if it has been established at the planning stage that return to the modified job is not possible.
Learning new duties requires a proper orientation plan and monitoring the progress of the orientation. If necessary, the work trial can be continued as job coaching if a significant change has taken place in the duties and learning new duties requires this.
Determining the suitability of the sector
A work trial to determine the suitability of the sector requires some other preliminary rehabilitation plan, such as job coaching or education. The plan must indicate a follow-up plan, which is why the suitability of the sector is tested.
The duties must give a real picture of the work done in the sector, and the working hours usually correspond to full-time work. If reduced working hours are proposed at the start of the work trial, this must have specific justifications. For example, if a person has been disabled for a long time or has received a negative pension decision after a period of disability, returning to work may require some getting used to following the long absence.
Extended return-to-work subsidy
Extended return-to-work subsidy is intended for people on rehabilitation subsidy who are assessed to need longer-term support for return to work. In this case, several work trials with a maximum total duration of one year may be subsidized.
Education is not included in the extended return-to-work subsidy.
The service provider supports the rehabilitee throughout the process. Care for the rehabilitee must be appropriate and the rehabilitee must be committed. In addition, cooperation with the care provider is required.
The goal of job coaching is to transfer to new duties or, after education, to be employed in new duties.
Job coaching includes on-the-job training and usually also external courses. Compensation is not granted for education and courses or equipment that the employer compensates for other employees as well.
The duration of job coaching is at most 18 months. Job coaching after studies can be granted if no more than 3 months have passed since the studies ended. After the studies, the duration of the work trial is 1–3 months. If the job coaching lasts at least a year, it may include one month of leave.
For other than full-time studies, an on-the-job training place is required alongside the education so that the full rehabilitation allowance can be paid. In this case, job coaching is granted for the duration of the education, unless the on-the-job training place is included in the education.
Job coaching can be carried out with or without pay.
Compensation for job coaching requires that a plan with a specified timetable has been drawn up.
The aim of studying is to acquire an occupation suitable for the state of health if the previous education and work history do not allow the person to continue at the work.
The length of the education is assessed individually according to the applicant’s situation. As a general rule, studies of up to 4 years can be reimbursed. Only one qualification or degree is reimbursed as vocational rehabilitation.
In principle, only studying in Finland is supported.
If the person is not a full-time student, receiving a full rehabilitation benefit requires practical training in parallel.
Rehabilitation allowance is also paid for studies conducted in summer. The student can be in gainful employment alongside the studies if the earnings do not exceed the so-called income limit. If the work lasts for the whole summer, i.e. three months, and the student also works at other times while studying, the income limit may be exceeded and the student must contact their own pension provider.
Path studies, studies at an open university or other similar studies that do not lead to a degree are not supported as vocational rehabilitation.
Towards the end of the studies, students are instructed to contact TE Services about two months before graduation if they are without a job.
Start-up grant for self-employment
The start-up grant for self-employment is a grant for starting or altering one’s own business, or for pursuing a trade. The grant is awarded for the necessary machinery, equipment and tools that promote continued working despite health restrictions.
A prerequisite for awarding a start-up grant is that the rehabilitee would earn a living in a job suitable for the state of health, either from their own enterprise or from practising a trade.
Rehabilitees must also have their own financing before any start-up grant can be awarded.
The start-up grant is personal support for the rehabilitee.
Rehabilitation assistance is a discretionary benefit.
Entitlement to the rehabilitation assistance only exists if active rehabilitation is not yet underway and the rehabilitee is not paid a salary or their livelihood is not secured by other benefits, such as sickness allowance or unemployment allowance.
The rehabilitation assistance is generally granted for a maximum of 3 months.