[Excerpt] The International Research Project on Job Retention and Return to Work Strategies for Disabled Workers is an initiative of the International Labour Organisation (ILO) and the Global Applied Research and Information Network on Employment and Training (GLADNET). It reflects ILO and GLADNET joint aims of establishmg a base for cross-national research and strengthening links between research analysis and policy reform in the field of employment of disabled people.
The Project is a response to a combination of developments which highlight the need for more effective policies and practices in support of workers whose prospects of remaining in employment are jeopardised by work injury, illness or disability. Persons with disabilities are increasingly claiming rights to stay in work as well as to access employment. Pressures on state budgets, the rising costs of compensation claims and disability benefits, and changes in the structure of the labour market are strengthening policies in favour of job retention and return to work. Enterprises are developing their own strategies to minimise the costs of disability and to retain valued employees. Overall, the balance of responsibility is shifting from the state to the enterprise.
Policies and practices to prevent disabled workers from leaving work unnecessarily, and to facilitate rapid return to employment if job loss cannot be prevented, are recent developments in many countries. The cross-national exchange of information on initiatives and their effects is limited. The first aim of this Project has been to gather information about what has been attempted, by whom, for what purposes, in which contexts and to what effects. The second, more ambitious, aim, is to examine the interaction between the various policies and practices, identify dysfunctions, and work towards more coherent and cost-effective strategies for job retention and return to work which might be applied in different national systems. The ultimate objective is to identify strategies which can be put into effect in the workplace.