How to continue in the job after a long illness world

If employees are absent for a long time, fears of dismissal are often great. But returning workers have more rights than known. Inclusion measures are also prescribed.

A n Alexander Kreidel (52) was looking forward to the company vacations after Christmas. Although he had just returned to work in November. The doctor had last put him on sick leave for eight weeks because of his persistently aching arm. He did not want to miss work again. During the company vacations, the inflammation in his arm would already subside, he hoped.

But this was not the case. On the contrary, back at work, after a few weeks, his arm had worsened so much that he could not even shake hands with someone without feeling pain. Work was out of the question for the foreseeable future. "A lot of worries come into your head," he says.

With regard to a dismissal due to illness, it is good for employees to know that the requirements are very high

Kreidel has worked for 28 years at EvoBus, a Daimler subsidiary that produces buses and coaches. He was in a team that assembles the seats in the buses. A seat weighs about 25 kilograms. Together with colleagues, he carried the seats produced at the plant to the right place in the bus and fixed them in place. At some point his arm went on strike. "Something has to happen, I can't do it anymore" – those were his thoughts at the time, he recounts.

What happened to Kreidel can affect many workers at some point. People who have a slipped disc, cancer, depression or addiction are often absent for several weeks at a time and are sometimes sick again and again. The fears are then great. Can the employer dismiss me? And what do I have to tell my boss?

Worries about financial consequences

With regard to termination due to illness, it is good for employees to know that the requirements are very high, says Hans-Georg Meier. He is a specialist attorney for labor law in Berlin. Member of the labor law working group of the German Bar Association. The prerequisite for termination due to illness is that an employee has been ill for at least six weeks in each of three consecutive years.

How to continue in the job after a long illness world

In addition, it must be expected that an employee will continue to be sick to a considerable extent in the future. And even if this is the case, it is particularly important to weigh up the individual case. Kreidel from EvoBus was not worried about a dismissal. "After all, I have been with the company for a very long time." But he wondered what will become now, also in financial terms. For six weeks, employees receive continued payment of wages from the employer in the event of illness.

This is how the Continuation of Remuneration Act prescribes it. Afterwards, the health insurance company steps in with sick pay. Employees can then expect to receive about 70 percent of their gross pay. Sick pay is paid for a maximum of 78 weeks. After that, there remains the possibility of applying for benefits from the employment agency or from pension insurance.

When Kreidel was on extended sick leave for the second time, he received mail from EvoBus health management, as he had the first time. He was invited to a meeting on occupational integration management (BEM). In this discussion, we jointly consider how the incapacity for work can be overcome and the employee can be reintegrated into the company in the best possible way.

Developing a perspective together

The employee can also choose the group of people who attend the talks, says Kerstin Meyer Koschnike from EvoBus Health Management. As a rule, a works council member, someone from health management, and perhaps the boss are also present.

Together, they then consider what the employer can do to maintain the employee's ability to work and his or her health. In addition, it is a question of how he can help this employee to overcome the inability to work and not become ill again.

Employers are required by Social Code IX to offer BEM. For the sick employees, it is an offer to be taken advantage of voluntarily. "Employees are not required to tell what disease they have during the interview," explains Andreas Tautz. He is a board member of the German Society for Occupational and Environmental Medicine (DGAUM).

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Source: The World

The results of the conversation are recorded in a protocol. The goal is to jointly develop a perspective for the employee, to prevent incapacity for work and to keep the job. One BEM measure, for example, is for an employee to return to his or her job for only a few hours at first, and then to slowly increase.

If someone has been ill for a long time and is offered BEM, employees should definitely take an active part, advises Koschnike. "We actually always find a solution," she relates. If companies do not have an organized health management system, it is best for those affected to talk to the company doctor at an early stage. He can usually assess better than the family doctor what the working conditions are like on site.

From production to quality control

"I simply let myself be helped," Kreidel draws his personal BEM balance sheet. He underwent elbow surgery in April. His arm is not yet completely recovered, but it is slowly getting better. "But I won't be able to carry heavy loads in the future either," he says. That's why the result of the BEM was that he will change jobs.

It now has a job in quality control where it doesn't have to strain its arm. He checks the finished omnibuses for possible defects. After the surgery, he initially returned to work with a small number of hours as part of a gradual reintegration process, and then increased.

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