Innovative Policy 2013 on Employment

Malaysia’s returning to work programme

Many countries outside Europe and North America lack return-to-work assistance for employees acquiring a disability. Malaysia is the first southeast Asian country which has effectively improved rates of return to employment, for which a comprehensive disability management programme is crucial.

The Return to Work Programme
Founded on:2007
Country/Region
of origin
Malaysia
Beneficiaries targetedAll people insured by SOCSO who have suffered employment injury and are receiving Temporary Disablement Benefits
Responsible bodyMalaysian Social Security Organization (SOCSO)
StakeholdersPublic and private sector

IN BRIEF

Responding to a rise in work-related injuries, the Malaysian Social Security Organisation introduced the Return to Work Programme in 2007. Providing for a comprehensive physical and vocational rehabilitation, the programme uses individual case management to assist employees to recover and return to employment. Case managers effectively coordinate the early bio-psycho-social intervention, recovery assistance and workplace adaptation. The programme is promoted as good practice by the International Social Security Association both for countries seeking to improve their return to work approach, and for those aiming to introduce such a service.

FACTS & FIGURES

  • Since the programme’s inception, 4,842 workers have returned to work.
  • In 2011, the number of successfully rehabilitated employees was 1,812.
  • Of those who returned to work (2010: 65%), 84% continued to work for the same employer, out of these almost 70% continued to do the same job.
  • In 2012, the Ministry of Human Resources had already achieved almost 50% of its target (to return 1,700 workers to work) by June.
    There has been a 640% increase in the number of cases (2,815 in 2011).
  • As well, the benefits outweigh by far the costs by a 1.43:1 ratio and therapeutic results are highly positive.

INNOVATIVE ASPECTS

A legal mandate
The Employees’ Social Security Act of 1969 allows the Social Security Organization to provide free of charge facilities for rehabilitation.

Individual case management
Making use of individual but systematic case management while promoting early intervention, the programme considerably improved return to work rates.

Empowerment
Enhancing economic empowerment, the programme provides qualitative benefits to employees such as improvement of physical condition, health, skills, career goals, independence and self-esteem.

Sustainable use of financial resources
The benefits outweigh by far the costs by a 1.43:1 ratio, with possible average returns reaching RM7,884.06 compared to RM3,239.38 costs per person.

HISTORY

Tackling the rising trend of workers suffering from disability due to injuries and diseases, the Malaysian Social Security Organization (SOCSO) introduced the Return to Work Programme in 2007, following an 18-month pilot programme. This pilot programme was implemented based on the results of cost-benefit research conducted by the Australian government in 2003 and a visit of senior officials from SOCSO to Australia in 2006. The Return to Work Programme is carried out in accordance with the Employees’ Social Security Act of 1969 (in particular §§40, 53 and 57) and offers comprehensive physical and vocational rehabilitation to employees suffering from employment injuries and invalidity. From 2009, the programme became operational in every region of Malaysia. Currently, private companies are starting to introduce disability management policies in their human resource management practices. The programme is promoted as good practice both for countries seeking to improve their approach to facilitating the return to work of workers who acquire a disability, and for those aiming to introduce such a service, by the World Report on Disability, by the International Institute for Social Law and Policy, and by the International Social Security Association, which is using it as the basis for its draft guidelines to be discussed at its world congress in 2013.

«Comprehensive physical and vocational rehabilitation through systematic individual case management is vital to realize the aspiration of people with disabilities to return to meaningful employment.»

Hans-Horst Konkolewski, International Social Security Association

KEY FEATURES

The Return to Work Programme is managed by the Social Security Organization. Offering comprehensive physical and vocational rehabilitation, it may assist free of charge workers who suffer from employment injuries and invalidity, to be able to return to work. Several factors have contributed to its success: A legal mandate, early intervention, coordination of benefits, standard case management protocols, bio-psycho-social intervention, stakeholder participation, data mining and evidence-based strategies. Most important is the effective coordination of rehabilitation through systematic individual case management, by the means of which the programme promotes job retention, re-employment and social reintegration. Each case starts with an initial assessment by the case manager, who identifies the key problems and the rehabilitation needs, and plans the recovery assistance. This can involve physiotherapy, vocational retraining and provision of assistive devices/modifications, but also vocational counselling or workplace intervention. Case managers are involved from the beginning to the end, communicate with the specialists, doctors, employers, family members and rehabilitation professionals, and can be assisted by job placement officers.

FUTURE DEVELOPMENT

SOCSO plans to complete its first Rehabilitation Centre for Return to Work by 2013. It engages to reduce further the average number of days required per case (2011: 189 days, benchmark: 59.4 days). In addition, law reform to increase employer involvement is being prepared.

CONTACT

Mr. Mohammed Azman BIN AZIZ MOHAMMED
Deputy Chief Executive Officer (Operations)
+60 34 25 65 35 7
drazman@perkeso.gov.my
www.perkeso.gov.my


Mr. Edmund CHEONG PECK HUANG
Head of Operations, RTW Department, Social Security Organization
+60 34 25 65 35 7
edmund.cheong@perkeso.gov.my
www.perkeso.gov.my


Mr. Bernd TREICHEL
Project Manager, International Social Security Association
+41 22 79 96 48 9
treichel@ilo.org
www.issa.int

SOURCES

SOCSO, Return to Work, available at: http://www.perkeso.gov.my/en/return-to-work1.html

Marius Olivier et al, SOCSO Return-To-Work Programme in Malaysia. A Handbook 2012, International Institute for Social Law and Policy & Perkeso 2012, available at: http://www.rtwmalaysia.com/2012/images/stories/9789834230012.pdf

Nominated by: Mr. Hans-Horst KONKOLEWSKY, International Social Security Association(ISSA)