The Inclusive Workplace (IW) or Inkluderende Arbeidsliv (IA) – you have heard the terms, but what exactly do they mean and, more importantly, what do they mean for you? Learn about Omega’s dedication to the objectives of IW and learn how the agreement is already benefiting our team.

What is an Inclusive Workplace?

The idea behind the concept of the “Inclusive Workplace” (IW) is to give every individual who wants to, and is able to, work the opportunity to work.

The IW concept originates from the Cooperation agreement on a more inclusive workplace (first signed by the Norwegian Government and the major labour market partners in October 2001). The goal of this agreement is to move away from a trend whereby an increasing number of people leave the workforce and take up long-term social security benefits.

Omega’s Agreement

All Norwegian companies can become IW enterprises by signing an agreement with the National Insurance Service. The managing director, together with one or more workers’ representatives sign the agreement on behalf of the company. The head of the National Insurance IW centre for an inclusive work place in the county signs the agreement on behalf of the authorities. Omega signed the agreement on May 1, 2004.

Omega’s Chairman, Sigmund Lunde, suggests Omega has already experienced the benefits of the IW system, citing a reduction in sick leave as a major accomplishment:

Since Omega joined the programme, we have reduced our sick leave from over three percent to under two percent – one of the IW goals. The arrangement shifts the focus from doctor and employee to the employee and employer, so that if someone is ill or on leave for a long period of time, we can organise work so that it will suit their situation.

The evidence suggests that if employees are away from work for more than half a year, they often don't come back. IW’s focus shift can help address that issue and create a safety net for employees.

Participating companys’ obligations are legally enforceable through regulations found in the Act on Work Environment. This means both you and Omega are obliged to look for solutions that will bring you back to work as soon as possible – part or full-time, taking your health problems into account.

Objectives of IW

The specific objectives of the IW agreement are to:

  • Reduce sick leave
  • Secure employment for a far greater number of employees with impaired capacity
  • Increase the average age of retirement from working life
  • Create a work place with room for everyone who is able to and wants to work

These objectives can be achieved through:

  • Communication – openness and good cooperation within the company is essential
  • Early contact – long-term absence may cause insecurity about the way forward
  • Active measures at work – employer and employee should work together to find the best solutions

To achieve the IW objectives above, all parties involved must pull their weight, and you, as an Employee of an IW company, are an important contributor.

Benefits

  • Extended use of self-report (egenmelding) in case of sickness. This means the employee can report sick up to 24 calendar days within a 12 month period, and a limit of eight days per absence case.
  • Occupational health services might receive special remuneration for efforts in order to bring people on sick leave and/or people with a disability back to work.
  • IW enterprises can apply for economic support (tilretteleggingstilskudd) in order to adjust the workplace to prevent sickness, bring a sick employee back to work, or to provide training for people with reduced functional capacity.
  • National Insurance Service Assistance
    • Assist in developing sick leave follow-up routines
    • Offer training in order to assist in the IW work
    • Help companies to get started with the IW work by offering advice and guidance
    • Provide examples and information material for use in the IW work
    • Special assistance to smaller companies

Responsibilities

IW aims to take better care of each individual employee’s resources and possibilities. In order to achieve this goal, the cooperation of the workplace and the employees is essential. Both employer and employee are obliged to cooperate in finding mutually beneficial solutions in the workplace.

Employer

Having signed the agreement with the National Insurance Service, Omega is an “IW enterprise” and thereby commits itself to work for the fulfillment of the agreement within the company. Employer responsibilities include:

  • Putting IW on the agenda
  • Establishing goals for IW work
  • Working systematically to improve the work environment
  • Initiating open dialogue in the workplace
  • Making necessary adjustments (as far as possible) when a worker becomes sick, or can no longer complete his or her tasks at work
  • Setting up a follow-up plan for sick leave in cooperation with the employee

Employees

Employee responsibilities include:

  • Contributing (as far as possible) to a good and healthy work environment
  • Suggesting changes in order to improve the situations
  • Looking for alternative solutions to sick leave, in case you are or may become unable to work
  • Informing your manager if your sick leave is connected to your situation at work
  • Discussing with your manager what you are capable of doing, so that the employer can make necessary adjustments to your situation at work
  • Contributing to an inclusive work environment
  • Participating in a dialogue with the employer in order to find solutions that will keep you at work

Resources

More information on idebanken.org (Norwegian only)

Published: 05.04.06 (Updated: 29.09.15)