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Between Work and Welfare Improving Return to Work Strategies for long-term absent employees

Funding: EU: targeted socio-economic research programme


Long term absenteeism for health reasons is a major problem across Europe. In many countries there are more people who are work disabled than there are unemployed. The reasons for this situation are complex, and vary from country to country. They generally involve a combination of workplace factors and welfare system related factors. The net effect of the interaction of these systems is often to ‘disable’ the worker, with consequent costs for employers, workers and welfare systems.

The RETURN project will address the problems of work disability, with the aim of characterising the work and the welfare based systems which deal with workers who become disabled and developing solutions to the barriers to reintegrating the work disabled. The project takes place in 6 of the member States: Ireland, Finland, Italy, Germany, Austria and the Netherlands.


  • Work Research Centre (Irl) - Project Managers
  • University College Dublin (Irl) - Technical Managers
  • Social Insurance Institution (SF)
  • Fortum Oyj (SF)
  • University of Heidelberg (D)
  • University of Maastricht (Nl)
  • University of Cassino (It)
  • University of Linz (Aut)

Projects outputs

  • Developing and testing Audit system for companies to assess their practice in the area
  • Developing a training course for rehabilitation professionals working in the area
  • Developing a set of best practice guidelines for all of the major stakeholders
  • Developing policy recommendations for the EU and Government agencies

Duration of project

February 2000 - February 2002

For more information

Name: Dr. Richard Wynne
Organisation:   Work Research Centre
Telephone: +353-1-492-7042
Facsimile: +353-1-492-7046

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