When working in Finland, you have the right to rehabilitation in the event of illness or any impairment that makes it more difficult to work. Rehabilitation is generally designed to accommodate individual needs and conducted by competent medical experts.
The main scheme is called Kiila rehabilitation. The purpose is to support people’s ability to continue working in good health. As the goal is to help people stay working, rehabilitation must begin early enough so as to safeguard a worker’s ability to remain economically active.
Kiila rehabilitation might be for you whether you are employed or self-employed, have an illness or health problem that hampers working and think that the help received from occupational health care is not sufficient or adequate.
The actual rehabilitation itself is planned individually, based on a medical evaluation of your circumstances. It is normally organised in small groups, often made up of 3 to 5 people working in the same branch.
Usually it includes 8–9 days treatment in centres of occupational well-being and rehabilitation. These are located all around the country. Also, one day group treatment and 4–8 individual visits are included. All this will take place within a one and a one and a half year time span.
Ideally rehabilitation should be sought in cooperation with occupational health care, but it is also possible to apply for it by getting a so called doctor’s certificate B which can be issued by any medical doctor.
Once that is done, one only needs to fill in the form for Kiila rehabilitation on Kela’s webpages (Kela being the Social Insurance Institution of Finland). There is even a possibility to apply for the services of an interpreter for those with limited command of Finnish or Swedish.
Kela has comprehensive information in English about Kiila on their pages www.kela.fi.
Kiila rehabilitation does not cost anything. Many employers will continue to pay salary when joining it, but if this is not the case, you can apply for a rehabilitation allowance and travel costs from Kela.
IMPORTANT TO ACT IN TIME
Occupational health care has a key role in rehabilitation, says Kari Haring, the Medical Adviser of the Central Organisation of Finnish Trade Unions SAK in an article in Finnish for Tekijä magazine.
– It is crucial to recognise problems concerning someone’s ability to work early on, before there is a need for sick leave or taking an early pension.
It is equally important to think of solutions when changes in the ability to work become apparent and how incapacitated persons might continue in working life, Haring stresses.
Unions have the right to apply for Kiila rehabilitation for their members, too. The Industrial Union has applied for rehabilitation for example in Oulu and Helsinki for their shop stewards.
– This group experiences special pressures. There is no peer support in the workplace and the work can be very burdensome when dealing with other people’s issues, says Marjut Lumijärvi, the Health, Safety and Environment Officer at the Finnish Industrial Union in the same article.
TEXT HEIKKI JOKINEN