New method to promote employability upon termination of employment

The Finnish Institute of Occupational Health has published guidelines and forms with which employers and occupational health service providers can screen employees who need concrete support for returning to work. At the moment, employees who could benefit from support measures by occupational health care before their employment relationship ends are excluded from transition security.
Henkilökuvassa Tuulia Varanka-Ruuska
Tuulia Varanka-Ruuska
Pirjo Juvonen-Posti
Pirjo Juvonen-Posti

Finnish Institute of Occupational Health media release 17 April 2024

The Finnish Institute of Occupational Health reminds of the importance of promoting work ability at all stages of employees’ careers – even when an employment relationship is about to end.

The employer is obligated to organize for its employees statutory occupational health care services for promoting work ability. When faced with the threat of unemployment, the focus should be on supporting re-employment. This is also guided by the Government Decree (708/2013) that states that medical examinations should also be carried out at the end of the employment relationship, if necessary.  

“Unfortunately, this is done quite rarely. According to the AvoHilmo statistics of the National Institute for Health and Welfare, very few medical examinations are carried out at the end of the employment relationship in order to determine employability,” says Tuulia Varanka-Ruuska, medical specialist from the Finnish Institute of Occupational Health.

The situation may be better in organizations with more than 30 employees that are subject to transition security. In these cases, the obligation to arrange occupational health care continues for six months after the end of the work obligation, if the termination has been made for productivity and financial reasons and the employment relationship has lasted for more than five years.

“Many employees are outside the scope of transition security. The need for promoting employability should also be assessed for those employees whose employment relationship is shorter or fixed-term,” says Pirjo Juvonen-Posti, Leading Specialist from the Finnish Institute of Occupational Health. 

Reflecting on professional competence when threatened by unemployment

The Finnish Institute of Occupational Health has published concise guidelines and forms that facilitate the identification and support of persons at risk of unemployment. 

“In an ideal situation, the employer will relay the information about the termination of the employment relationship to occupational health care in a timely manner,” says Tuulia Varanka-Ruuska. 

In the new procedure, the occupational health services send the employee an occupational competency form to fill in. They can use the form to help in their own reflection and submit it to the employment services, if they wish.  If specific needs for supporting work ability are identified based on the form, an in-person or remote consultation with occupational health care can be scheduled for surveying previously implemented work ability support measures and obtaining further information on the current situation, as well as the need for further action.

The aim is to streamline the employee's path to social welfare, healthcare and employment services. Challenges related to work ability and re-employment should be addressed as early as possible so that do not prolong the period of unemployment.

“Particularly employees with partial work ability will benefit from support in identifying their own strengths and challenges in relation to finding employment. Many people want answers to what my work ability is sufficient for and what to do next,” says Pirjo Juvonen-Posti.

Employer plays a key role 

The employer makes the decision on how to provide work ability support at the end of the employment relationship. In practice, the new co-operation procedures can be agreed with the occupational health services provider, and recorded in the occupational health care action plan. 

“The question is how do we get employers to commit to the objectives of active labour market policies. For many small businesses, the provision of services may be limited by the quest for short-term cost savings. I would encourage everyone to be critical of this way of thinking, as the need for workforce can change quickly,” says Pirjo Juvonen-Posti.

“The cost may not necessarily even be very high, as the procedure can be implemented quite lightly. It comprises sending the form to the employee and, if necessary, scheduling an appointment and forwarding the information to the next party, with the employee's permission. This is a small investment at the end of the employment relationship, which may be of great importance to the individual,” says Pirjo Juvonen-Posti. 

Learn more

Further information

  • Tuulia Varanka-Ruuska, medical specialist, Finnish Institute of Occupational Health, tuulia.varanka-ruuska [at], +358 30 474 6090
  • Pirjo Juvonen-Posti, Leading Specialist, Finnish Institute of Occupational Health, pirjo.juvonen-posti [at], +358 30 474 2041 

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