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Business & Society Beligum (Janssen Pharmaceutica) - When Prevention Fails: Reintegration into the Workplace after an extended period of absence due to ill Health

Added on 22-03-2013


Janssen Pharmaceutica



Business challenge

Business is functioning in an ever-changing environment. There is an increased need to offer support to those employees who resume work after an extended period of absence (four weeks or more) for ill health reasons.


Janssen Pharmaceutica works to reintegrate employees who have been on a sick leave for an extended period of time. The organisation supports an informal, yet very professional network of "social workers"(company doctors, company nurses, psychologist, and others) that operates in a direct, systematic, integrated and preventive way to address physical and mental issues.

This network is well known on site and is accessible to every employee. Employees that go on a sick leave for an extended period will be identified early in the process, and will be given support to ensure a positive reintegration process. Respect for employee confidentiality is of great importance, and interactions with other groups such as line management and human resources, as well as consultation with external practitioners will be managed within this framework.

In addition, to this expert-oriented-process, a process of line management involvement is being developed. It is already in place at some levels. Tailor-made training and coaching has been developed allowing this group to function as a first line assistant to their direct reports. Line management needs to be able to recognize, acknowledge and address non-verbal signals of discomfort of their employees. The better they can do this, the sooner adequate intervention and support can be provided to the employees.

The benefits of the reintegration process is that line management remain in contact with the employee during his/her sickness period. During this period, the employee is provided with tools, such as a toolkit for resilience as well as communication and stress training in order to empower and allow the employee to take ownership of their own personal wellbeing.


• Possible role confusion of line managers (e.g. difficulty to remain a functional leader in case an employee needs and asks for caring)

• Ensure management buy-in

• Partner with all stakeholders (including unions) to ensure understanding of goals, roles and responsibilities and fair behaviour, especially towards line managers and employees involved

Challenges/Lessons learned:

• Reduced sickness absence and health related costs

• Skills retention

• Enhanced social wellbeing

• Prevention of re-collapsing

• Increased feeling of empowerment and ownership

More information

Departments Involved: Human Resources, site management, Environment, Health and Safety and Security Department; all employees, unions

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