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Work Ability Reform

The work ability reform, which created a new performance of the work ability support system, started in Estonia in 2016. The aim of the amendments is to change attitudes towards people with reduced work ability and to help them find and keep a job.

  • Each person with reduced work ability is approached individually, assessed on one’s ability to be active in the society, and, consequently, supported to find opportunities in the labour market. Also, a future employer of the person is dealt with separately, in order to find labour relationship solutions necessary for both parties.
  • People with reduced work ability are paid work ability allowance. The income begins to decline after the 90-times the daily rate which in 2017 is 1063.80 € per month. From this amount, the allowance will gradually decline, and it will no longer be paid, if the person's income reaches 1,468.05 €. In case of deficient work ability, the allowance lapses when the person earns 1773.0 € per month.
  • The employer is given compensation for workplace adjustment costs. As a result of the work ability reform, the disabilities do not incur additional costs for the employer and people with disabilities are equal employees. The support provided by the state creates favourable conditions for hiring a disabled person. The Unemployment Insurance Fund advises employers, provides support in the period of acclimatisation and helps them to find solutions to emerging issues.
  • The Unemployment Insurance Fund started assessing work ability and paying work ability allowances on 1 July 2016.

  • Since January 2017, work ability is being assessed and allowances paid by the Unemployment Insurance Fund.
  • By 2020, the public sector will have employed at least 1,000 people with decreased work ability.

 

 

Goals

  • Bringing persons with reduced work ability back to labour market and helping them to cope in the market.
  • Changing the mentality: we will assess ability, not inability to work.

  • Preventing loss of work ability and motivating people to take active part in social life; lending employers a hand to help them improve working environment to employ persons with reduced work ability and keep them employed.

 
Estonian Unemployment Insurance Fund as a single administrating institution organises:
  • assessment of work ability;
  • payment of work ability benefits;
  • provision of labour market services;
  • work-related rehabilitation and provision of technical aids.

Principles of the new scheme:
  • new methodology for the assessment of work ability;
  • work ability benefit instead of pension;
  • activity requirements for those who can work;
  • integrated approach: rehabilitation, motivation, technical aids and assistance needed to return to labour market, all from a single place.
     
Activity requirements
  • person with reduced ability to work must meet the following requirements to qualify for benefit/support:
    • registered as unemployed;
    • participation in activation measures;
    • studying or
    • working.
  • Persons who have fully lost their work ability are also entitled to labour market measures. There is no requirement to participate in the measures. Activity is not required of persons who raise children under the age of 3 years or take care of a disabled person.


Maintaining current pension

  • If a person has been assigned a certain percentage of loss of capacity of work for the period of two years, as minimum, yet the support granted to this person under the new scheme is lower than the original pension, s/he will be paid a support that is equivalent to the original amount of pension until the new assessment.

 

Activity requirements
  • person with reduced ability to work must meet the following requirements to qualify for benefit/support:
    • registered as unemployed;
    • participation in activation measures;
    • studying or
    • working.
  • Persons who have fully lost their work ability are also entitled to labour market measures. There is no requirement to participate in the measures. Activity is not required of persons who raise children under the age of 3 years or take care of a disabled person.
     

Work Ability Reform

 

Time Schedule

  • July 2016;– the Estonian Unemployment Insurance Fund starts the assessment of new persons receiving pension for incapacity for work

  • January 2017 – the Estonian Unemployment Insurance Fund starts the assessment of persons currently receiving pension for incapacity for work, as the term of their incapacity for work expires

Methodology for the Assessment of Work Ability

According to the new system, percentage of loss of work capacity is no longer assigned. Assessment of work ability is organised by the Estonian Unemployment Insurance Fund and this includes the abilities, capacity and suitable work available.

The assessment is supposed to identify whether the person has:

  • work ability;

  • partial work ability; 

  • missing work ability.

The person to be assessed will be required to attend a doctor during three months that precede the assessment. The same requirement is currently applicable to the assessment of incapacity for work.

Application must be filed with the Estonian Unemployment Insurance Fund to have one’s work ability assessed. The individual concerned must answer questions, concerning his or her abilities in a variety of spheres (e.g. mobility, manual activities, learning etc.).

Medical expert will compare the information, supplied in the application, with health records and give assessment of work ability. Where appropriate, the health records will be specified with the help from the individual’s general practitioner.

Should it be impossible to assess work ability on the bases of document (e.g. the information, supplied in the application is in conflict with health records), medical expert may summon the individual for a visit. Medical expert will not offer a diagnosis or treatment – this is the task of the treating doctor.

The individual concerned that explain the answers, given in the application, at the personal interview with the medical expert. Where appropriate, the doctor will ask for additional information and clarify any issues, related to suitability of employments. The doctor can also test acting and participation ability.

Using the outcomes of document and, where appropriate, visit based assessment, the medical expert will prepare an opinion for the Estonian Unemployment Insurance Fund that will be used to pass a decision concerning work ability assessment.

NB! Disability and decreased work ability are two different things and will be assessed by different means. Disability is seen as an obstacle preventing individual from participation in social – not just work life. Today we work to ensure a system that will allow disabled persons to pass two assessments with as little effort as possible. 

Transition from assessment of permanent capacity for work to assessment of work ability will take step by step.

  • From 1 July 2016 the Estonian Unemployment Insurance Fund started to assess the work ability of persons who have not been earlier assigned permanent loss of capacity for work (i.e. first-time cases).

  • From 1 January 2017, the Estonian Unemployment Insurance Fund started to assess the work ability of persons whose period of permanent loss of incapacity for work, registered at the Social Insurance Board, is about to expire.

Last updated: 10 May 2017