Status: 04.12.2023, 12:30 p.m.
By: Carina Blumenroth
If employees are ill for a long time, it can be difficult to return to work. What integration management is and what employees need to know.
Sick leave can occur in working life – sometimes employees have to submit a doctor's certificate from the first day of illness. Sick people then receive the salary from the employer for a period of six weeks. This is regulated by the Continued Payment of Remuneration Act. If employees are ill for a longer period of time due to the same illness, they receive sick pay. This is paid by the statutory health insurance and is paid for 72 weeks. Those affected will then receive around 70 percent of their gross earnings. But what can actually happen when recovered people start work again?
Occupational integration management (BEM): when will it be offered to employees?
Going back to work after a long illness? Reintegration can help. If you are unsure, you can talk to your doctor. (Symbolic image) © David Munoz/Imago
If employees are unable to work for more than six weeks or repeatedly in a year, the employer must clarify with the works council and the person concerned how the ability to work can be guaranteed. Specifically, it can be about services or assistance that prevent a recurrence of illness with the aim of preserving the job, the lawyers Hensche inform on their own website. According to the law, there are deliberately no strict specifications as to what integration management must look like, according to the German Pension Insurance. The aim is to find solutions that are as individual and practicable as possible.
Important: The works council or staff council and also a possible company doctor are only present at the meetings if the employee has given his okay, Hensche informs.
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What needs to be considered if there is a severe disability?
If the employee has a degree of severe disability, the representative body for severely disabled employees should also be involved in the discussions. The employee must also agree to this.
Do I have to participate in a BEM as an employee?
Employees are not legally obliged to participate in the company's integration management. However, it is advisable to at least exchange information about the possibilities. For example, dismissal due to illness can also be prevented, Hensche informs.
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Phased reintegration model
Gradual reintegration is a good option when the employee returns to his or her original job. The aim is to slowly increase the number of working hours again. This is a medical measure for rehabilitation, informs the portal Papershift. However, the model has generally proven its worth when it comes to reintegration, reports the Competence Centre for Securing Skilled Workers. The Hamburg model, as the gradual reintegration is also called, works as follows:
If necessary, a result of the reintegration may also be that the employee takes on other tasks in the company. The Federal Institute for Occupational Safety and Health emphasizes that this is a voluntary measure. How working hours are organised depends on the individual case and must be agreed with the employer.
As an employee, can I also encourage reintegration?
If you do not feel comfortable with the idea of returning to work full-time, you can of course also suggest a reintegration with your doctor. Depending on the reason for the illness, this can even be useful. However, it is also possible that the objection comes directly from your doctor. The extent to which reintegration is possible then depends on the agreement with the employer.