2016 saw the launch of employment policy reform in Estonia revising the working ability support system. The reform aims to help people with decreased work ability to find and secure suitable employment, including changing public perception and attitude towards the disabled. The reform introduced a new methodology for the assessment of work ability, updated the support system and range of services, and the management of the working ability support system was taken over by the Unemployment Insurance Fund.
The purpose of the mid-term evaluation is to find out how the policy changes have been implemented, estimate the likelihood of achieving the objectives, and discuss whether and what improvement in the scheme and its implementation are needed to achieve its objectives.
Awareness of policy changes inside the target group and population in general are needed for reforms to take effect; awareness has improved over the years.
Job opportunities for people with decreased work ability are influenced by public beliefs and attitudes regarding disability. Changing beliefs and attitudes is a long-term process, therefore it is unlikely to reach target level by 2020, and continuous effort is required.
Work ability reform will bring along simplification of administration, so that measures needed to support employment can be obtained from one institution.
Activation of people with decreased work ability could be supported by better integration and cooperation between service providers, including proactivity in service delivery.
With the introduction of work ability reform, information systems were created and modified, including a database on work ability assessment and work support.
Data exchange between information systems for assessment and service delivery is generally well functioning, but the poor quality of health data and data acquisition shall be improved.
Assessment of work ability
The new assessment methodology is an important source of information on functionality and capability, which is useful in matching and providing support and services.
In order to implement the methodology for assessment of work ability, it is necessary to ensure consistent understanding and practice in using the methodology.
Work ability allowance
The work disability allowance should provide sufficient replacement income, support for subsistence and participation in society, as it is above the national subsistence minimum.
However, the current subsistence level is too low to ensure the coverage of both the inevitable costs necessary for survival and the costs of participation in society.
People with decreased work ability are offered a wide range of employment services that should meet the needs of most people. There is also a growing trend to provide taylor made solutions to jobseekers and employees.
Internal audits and consultations with target groups and stakeholders of services have been conducted to design and improve services; information activities have been improved to raise awareness of possible services and aid.
In particular, there is a need for improved personal assistance, customized transportation, job rehabilitation, work adaptation and sign language translation service.
Disabled people are active on labour market both due to favourable labour market conditions and the policy reform.
Output, performance and financial indicators of work ability reform indicate that the reform has started well.
The reformed work ability support system is adequate, but there is no counterfactual assessment of the impact of the measures.