Project Information

Return to work. Organizational and individual conditions of re-integration in the event of health problems

The research project investigates the conditions for successful reintegration into employment after long periods of absence due to sickness. It focuses on two complementary constellations in which the challenges of re-integration into employment are particularly evident:

  1. Return into employment after a very long sickness leave or after an incapacity pension (Erwerbsminderungsrente) (subproject 1) and
  2. Re-integration into a new job within a company due to health problems (subproject 2).

In addition, a research monitoring system is assigned to the project, which is intended to compile current findings and projects in the field of intra- and inter-company alliances to safeguard employability and to prepare them in a generally comprehensible way (subproject 3). Subprojects 1 and 3 are being processed at the IAQ, and Subproject 2 is being processed by helex.

Subproject 1: Return to employment after a very long sickness leave or after an incapacity pension (Erwerbsminderungsrente)

The research subjects are employment biographies of persons after a period of incapacity pension or after a very long sickness leave. This includes the following questions:

  • How many persons are affected?
  • How long were the periods of temporary receipt of an incapacity pension?
  • What is their employment status after the termination of the receipt of an incapacity benefit (employed, unemployed, other)?
  • What are the characteristics of employment after the receipt of an incapacity benefit? How do they compare to the job before the incapacity period?
  • Which factors influence employment chances after the receipt of an incapacity benefit?
  • Are there changes over time?

The analysis is done with process-produced data sets from the Research Data Centre of the German Pension Insurance Fund. Those included are BASiD, a sample of individual pension accounts (including insurance biographies), and a data set about completed rehabilitations from 2003 to 2013. The central hypotheses of the study refer to three possible factors: the previous employment history, the duration of absence from the work process and the type of health restrictions that were responsible for the reduction in earning capacity. The hypotheses are tested for several groups (men and women, skill level, age). Descriptive and multivariate methods are used to identify employment and pension histories and possible influencing factors.

Subproject 3: Research monitor for the "New Alliances" project network

The central question of the research monitor is based on the research network of the Hans-Böckler Foundation: how are different actors involved in processes of prevention and return to work, and how do they work together? The monitoring is structured along three thematic priorities (promotion/avoidance of health disabilities, actions during sickness / overcoming health disabilities and re-entry after sickness). To this end, existing research will be collected, systematized and presented in research reports. In a first step, projects and literature will be compiled on the basis of a database search. In the individual reports, each with its own thematic focus, the literature and projects are presented with a special emphasis on the central issue of cooperation and coordination between the actors involved.


Dr. Susanne Drescher, Dr. Dorothea Voss: Wie können Netzwerke den Erhalt der Beschäftigungsfähigkeit unterstützen? Eine systematische Annäherung. 27. Rehabilitationswissenschaftliches Kolloquium. Deutscher Kongress für Rehabilitationsforschung. Reha bewegt! München, 28.02.2018

Project data

Term of the project:
01.11.2016 - 31.03.2019

Reseach department:
Employment – Integration – Mobility

Project management:
Prof. Dr. Martin Brussig

Project team:
Lina Zink,Dr. Susanne Drescher