Occupational well-being: Whose responsibility is it?

An employer holds big responsibility over the occupational well-being of their employees, but the maintenance of the ability to work is also an advantage to the employee. Occupational health care is only one aspect of occupational well-being. Occupational well-being is also influenced by recreational days, the chances of employees to influence their own work as well luck breaks together for example.


An employee also has a responsibility for their own work ability and he should be open about the problems that occur in the workplace such as inadequate tools, stress, heat or cold. Safety at work is not always necessarily related to safe scaffolding or machinery protection devices. Safety at work is also related to harassment, ill-treatment and sexual anxiety. The supervisor always has the greatest responsibility when it comes to safety, or other problems in the workplace.


If an employee falls ill, they must notify their employer immediately. A doctor’s or nurse’s certificate has to be submitted to the employer in accordance with his instructions. In general, a certain number of days of absence from work with the employee’s own notification may be allowed, but this naturally depends on the employer. Although an employer must accept all occupational health certificates written by a doctor, he can refuse to pay salary for days of absence if the employee is required to get the doctor’s certificate from a physician chosen by the employer.


Evaluation of the incapacity for work is not always straightforward, as the work-related fatigue can also be a cause of disability. The supervisor can make an assessment of work-related disability. However, the employer cannot interpret a diagnosis made by a doctor, but he should ask his employee if they themselves feel that they are incapable of working. At times, an employee will wish for treatment of disease rather than sick leave. For this reason, the employer should ask their employee their own evaluation of the situation.


The employee may decide to come back to work during sick leave. Although the employer cannot ask an employee to come back during their sick leave, they can ask for a re-evaluation from a doctor after five days of sick leave for example. The employer has the right to know the diagnosis of the disease as this is required for the payment of wages. The employer may also request that the employee does other work besides their own that can be done even during his illness. However, the employee has the right to refuse, but he can always do their other duties, if it is possible.


The employment relationship cannot be terminated due to illness while behavior due to illness can lead to termination of employment. The employer must also be adhered to the legal protection of other workers. For example, alcoholism is a very common example of how ones disease puts a burden on other employees.

Caution: Management of personal affairs during working hours can also be counted as unauthorized absence.


The maintenance of the ability to work is the duty of the employer as well as the employee. Absenteeism, as well as comprehensive occupational well-being can be influenced by addressing the issue early on. Employee well-being is also reflected in the company’s earnings, so its maintenance is very important.