Objectives The aim of the study was to assess the effectiveness of the use of part-time sick leave at the early (first 12 weeks) stage of work disability due to mental disorder or musculoskeletal disease on sustained return to work (RTW) and overall work participation. Methods In a nation-wide register-based quasi-experimental study, we compared sustained RTW (ie, ≥28 consecutive days at work) and 2-year work participation between the part- and full-time sickness absence (SA) benefit groups (N=1878 in each group) using propensity-score matching. Persons who received partial or full SA benefit due to musculoskeletal diseases or mental disorders between January 1, 2010 and December 31, 2011 were eligible as cases or controls, respectively. Results A higher proportion showed sustained RTW after part- compared to full-time sick leave [absolute risk difference 8.0%, 95% confidence interval (95% CI) 5.3-10.9]. Moreover, the proportion of time at work was at a 10.5% higher level in the part- compared to full-time sick leave group. The prevalence of full disability retirement was almost three-fold among the full- compared to part-time sick leave group, whereas partial disability retirement was 4.5-fold more prevalent in the part- compared to full-time sick leave group. Conclusions The use of part-time sick leave during the first three months of SA enhances RTW and overall work participation during two years among persons with mental disorders and musculoskeletal diseases. The prescription of part-time sick leave can be recommended at an early stage of work disability.

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Keywords Legislation, Natural experiment, Partial sick leave, Propensity score, Quasi-experiment, Rehabilitation, RTW, Sickness absence
Persistent URL dx.doi.org/10.5271/sjweh.3664, hdl.handle.net/1765/101785
Journal Scandinavian Journal of Work, Environment and Health
Viikari-Juntura, E, Virta, L.J. (Lauri J.), Kausto, J, Autti-Rämö, I. (Ilona), Martimo, K.-P. (Kari-Pekka), Laaksonen, M. (Mikko), … Solovieva, S. (2017). Legislative change enabling use of early part-time sick leave enhanced return to work and work participation in Finland. Scandinavian Journal of Work, Environment and Health, 43(5), 447–456. doi:10.5271/sjweh.3664