PH Work: Promoting Healthy Work for People with Chronic Illness

9th Initiative (2011 - 2013)

Logo 9 initiative


The 9th ENWHP initiative, Work Adapted for All, focused on good practice on the retention and return to work of chronically ill employees.


Identify good practice strategies and interventions with regard to job retention and return to work.
Provide guidance to companies and employers
Establish cross-border knowledge transfer between experts and stakeholders.
Make recommendations on strategies for WHP targeted to RTW.
Raise awareness.


Europe is experiencing rapid demographic change with an ageing workforce leading to an inevitable increase in the proportion of employees with chronic conditions, a figure that in 2011 stood at almost a quarter of the workforce.  With predicted labour market shortages ringing alarm bells for Governments and employers, and given the social and individual impact of health related worklessness for individuals, supporting the retention and return to work of chronically ill employees has become an issue of critical importance.

Currently, however, chronically ill employees often experience great difficulties either to stay at work or to return to work after a long period of absence, leading the OECD to observe that “too many workers leave the labour market permanently due to health problems or disability, and too few people with reduced work capacity manage to remain in employment.”

The 9th ENWHP initiative, Work Adapted for All, sought to address this, its aim being to develop and disseminate good practice guidelines for Workplace Health Promotion strategies with regard to the retention and return to work of chronically ill employees. 

Main findings

Outputs included a guide to good practice, which emphasized that strategies aimed at increasing sustainable employability should stress the potential of workers with chronic illnesses and focus on their long-term employability, and a six-step action plan for managers/employers:


Identify who needs help.


Get in touch
3 Initial meeting
4 Case review
5 Return to Work Plan
6 Keep the plan under review

The Work Adapted for All initiative was concluded by a large scale conference on "Workplace Health Practices for Employees with Chronic Illness" at which employers and policymakers from across Europe were able to share their experiences and take the issue forward.  This included the publication of nine specific recommendations for EU and national policy.



Wynne, R et al (2012) Report on National Return to Work Policies. TNO/ENWHP


ENWHP (2012) Promoting Healthy Work for Workers with Chronic Illness: A Guide to Good Practice. ENWHP

Gründemann, R. et al (2012) Analysis of Models of Good Practice. TNO/ENWHP

Gründemann, R. et al (2012) Models of Good Practice. TNO/ENWHP


ENWHP (2013) Recommendations from ENWHP’s 9th Initiative. ENWHP


Wynne, R. et al (2011) The Challenge of the Sustainable Employability of Workers with Chronic Illnesses. TNO/ENWHP

Other links

OECD (2010) Sickness, Disability and Work: Breaking the Barriers: A Synthesis of Findings across OECD Countries. OECD.