Promoting healthy work for people with chronic illness

Chronic illness can be a major contributor to long-term absence from work.  As chronic illness evolves, the likelihood of absence increases as does the probability of becoming permanently excluded from employment completely.

However, not all people with even a severe chronic illness are long-term absent and the pathway from such illness to going on to a disability pension is not inevitable.

The key to successfully remaining at work is to have work adapted to the circumstances of the individual with chronic illness.  This means ensuring that workload and the physical environment are optimised, that return to work procedures are well established and effective and that workplace health promotion is implemented.

Logo: Work Adapted for All

The 9th Initiative of the European Network for Workplace Health Promotion is increasing public awareness about the importance of retaining and encouraging return to work of chronically ill employees.   This project - Work Adapted for all - Move Europe -  aims to promote healthy and suitable work for people suffering the consequences of a chronic illness - either through enabling job retention or by supporting their return to work (RTW). The project works towards introducing effective workplace health practices, by creating a favourable culture and by providing guidance and a number of tools to employers, to help make a difference for employees with a chronic illness.

Interacting with the absent employee

As part of its work, the project has produced a guide for employers to help them successfully retain or reintegrate employees with a chronic illness.  This can be found at:

These guidelines focus on the interactions between the employer and the employee.  They provided a step guide to how to manage communication and interaction about the illness absence episode and how to manage the return to work process at an individual level.

In addition, Work Adapted for All will produce a set of case studies of good practice and a policy guide for policy makers.  These can be found on the European website in April 2013.

Work Research Centre plays a major part in this project and is running the Irish leg of the Work Adapted for All campaign.

If you want to find out more about the project please contact Dr. Richard Wynne at:


Developing return to work policy for the workplace

Enabling the safe return to work of an employee with a chronic illness is not just a matter of interacting with the individual.  You must also ensure that workplace policy is supportive of the return to work process and that your organisation has the knowledge and skills to effectively implement the process.  The Re-integrate website provides an e-learning course in relation to developing workplace RTW policy.  This can be found at:

 Logo: Funded by the Health Programme of the European Union