Client: Ministry of Social Affairs

Period: 2021–2022

The study evaluates the implementation of the main goals of the work ability reform in the period 2016–2020. The assessment is based on aggregated data from registers, survey and interviews of people with reduced work ability (partial or no work ability or permanently incapacitated for work), survey and interviews with employers, and interviews with policy makers and implementers. The analysis uses the financial model of the work ability reform, which makes it possible to compare the costs of the reform with the situation without the reform.

The reform changed the principles for assessing and supporting work ability. The impetus for the reform was the steady increase in the number of people permanently incapacitated for work and the cost of disability pensions. The following objectives were set for work ability reform, which are assessed in the study:

  1. The growth of the number of disability pensioners and recipients of work ability allowance will slow down in the first years and decrease in the long run. Indicator: 10–15% of former incapacity pensioners and new entrants leave the system.
  2. Provide better access to the labor market for people with different health impairments and disabilities, by providing support and a range of measures. Indicator: by 2021, 50% of people of working age with a partial work ability will be employed.
  3. The ability of people with reduced working capacity to find work is increasing and their economic situation is improving. No indicator set.
  4. Cost savings and financial sustainability of the new system will be achieved compared to the cost forecast based on the situation before the work ability reform. Indicator: reduction of the projected costs of disability pensions and work ability allowances compared to the system before the work ability reform.

With the reform, the task of assessing work ability was transferred from the Social Insurance Board to the Unemployment Insurance Fund, and a new instrument for work ability assessment was introduced, which focuses on the assessment of work ability instead of assessing incapacity for work. For people with partial work ability, qualification for benefits was linked to being active in the labor market, studying or looking for work, and support for the use of work ability was extended to various services.

The study concludes that the work ability reform was an appropriate and effective measure that had a positive effect on the employment growth of people with reduced work ability. The recommendations that have emerged from the study to ensure the sustainability and effectiveness of the scheme can be summarized as follows:

  1. In order to develop an environment that supports the work of people with reduced work ability, it is necessary to continue to address the prevailing attitudes in society.
  2. In order to keep the number of people with reduced work ability stable, it is necessary to pay attention to the health of the population and to prevent the reduction of work ability.
  3. Analyze and find the optimal solution for consolidating different state systems created to support everyday and working life, so that people should not differentiate between different schemes when seeking for help (local government services and benefits, Social Insurance Board services and benefits for disabled people and people with no work ability, Unemployment Insurance Fund services and benefits for people with partial work ability and people without identified reduced work ability).
  4. Help people to reach the services and support currently provided through the various schemes and institutions by improving communication and inter-agency cooperation.
  5. Create solutions for employers to receive services without bureaucracy, quickly and conveniently.