Chronic Illness in the Workplace

Last reviewed on 11/07/2013 11:00

​Chronic illness poses a major challenge - it is the leading cause of mortality and morbidity in Europe and has a major impact on the expectancy of life lived in good health.  Addressing chronic illness in the workplace will lead to stronger economic growth, gainful employment, less dependency on state benefits, less demands on healthcare systems and increased productivity.

Promoting healthy work for workers with chronic illness: A guide to good practice

The European Commission launched the Europe 2020 Strategy in March 2010 to address the economic crisis which has had a detrimental effect on growth and social development. 

The guide to good practice – 'Promoting healthy work for workers with chronic illness' (external link) – arose from the Strategy's target to achieve ''a 75 per cent employment rate for 20-64 year olds throughout the EU'. However, 23.5 per cent of the working population in the 27 European member countries reported suffering from a chronic illness and 19 per cent stated that they have  long-standing health issues. 

Faced with an ageing and older workforce, who increasingly present with chronic illnesses raises challenges for workplaces in sustaining the viability of the business and for managers to manage such employees. This Guide considers the business case for investing in workplace health promotion programmes, formation of an action plan and a checklist for managers to support the return to work process.

Who developed the Guide?

The European Network for Workplace Health Promotion (ENWHP) (external link) was established in 1996 and throughout the years has undertaken series of workplace developments.  ENWHP facilitates cross border exchange of information and dissemination of good practice through international networks. Currently ENWHP has 28 member countries working together to improve workplace health and wellbeing and to reduce the impact of work-related illness on the European workforce.

ENWHP is driving forward this initiative to help promote attendance at work to assist in sustaining employment and economic sustainability.

A Guide which offers practical help to employers for workers with chronic illness

This guide offers practical advice on managing and supporting people who develop and present with chronic illness in the workplace. It is designed to be used as a source of practical help.

A Guide to the business case for chronic illness

This Guide highlights the business case and considers the impact chronic illness can have on the economy and productivity of a nation.

Further information on chronic illness in the workplace

View further information about the 9th ENWHP initiative  (external link).