Since 2004, employers have been required to provide workplace integration management for employees who fall ill. The aim is to maintain employability, making integration management a key part of mitigating the effects of demographic change. As a form of early intervention, it also helps secure individual opportunities for integration into the labour market.
Workplace integration management is enshrined in Section 84 (2) of Book IX of the Social Code (SGB IX). This stipulates that employers must provide integration management for all employees who become unfit for work for more than six weeks consecutively or on a recurrent basis in a given year. This means that employers must assess how an employee's inability to work can best be overcome and must identify the type of assistance or support needed to prevent a recurrence so that the position can be retained. Section 84 (2) of SGB IX intentionally does not prescribe in detail how this is to be done. An appropriate solution must be found at each workplace to meet individual needs. The law merely requires - with the agreement of the individual concerned - the involvement of the responsible employee representative (works or employee council) and, if the individual is severely disabled, the severely disabled employees representative. The works or company doctor must also be consulted where appropriate. Where participation-oriented benefits or employment support are considered in overcoming an inability to work and preventing a repeat episode of ill health, the local joint rehabilitation services office or in the case of persons with severe disabilities the integration office must be involved.
Workplace integration management can be described as an organised and cooperative approach to mobilising internal and external knowledge. The aim is to prevent job loss by restoring the employability of employees who have fallen ill and safeguarding their employability for the long term.
Workplace integration management follows the principle of self-determination for disabled employees, which means that the measures involved depend on the employee's agreement to and participation in the scheme. If the relevant criteria are met, integration management is mandatory for employers and voluntary for employees. So that an informed decision can be made regarding the application of integration management, Section 84 (2) of SGB IX provides that the person concerned must be informed about the goals and objectives of integration management and also about the nature and scope of any data collected for the purpose.