Document 3:5 (2010-2011) The Office of the Auditor General’s investigation into the Norwegian Labour and Welfare Administration’s follow up of people on sick leave was submitted to the Storting on 13 January 2011.
The investigation shows that NAV often fails to obtain sufficient information from doctors and employers about the situation of people on sick leave. People on sick leave should be in work-related activity after eight weeks, unless there are medical grounds that preclude this. In most cases, however, NAV accepts that people on sick leave remain inactive, even if their doctor has not documented such medical grounds. For the majority of those on sick leave for more than three months, NAV obtains little or no information about special arrangements in the workplace. The result of inadequate information from doctors and employers is that NAV often does not have a basis for clarifying whether the person on sick leave can be active or whether measures need to be implemented during the first six months of the sick leave period.
The proportion of people who start on occupational rehabilitation during the sick leave period is low and has changed little during the period 2004 to 2009. The proportion with graded sick notes has remained stable at around 17 to 18 per cent in the same period, even though the goal has been to increase the use of this important tool. If people on sick leave are inactive, the possibility of them making an early return to work is reduced. NAV is dependent on better cooperation with doctors if the proportion of graded sick notes is to be increased.
The investigation shows that, in 2009, NAV did not hold dialogue meetings for almost two-thirds of those who had been on sick leave for more than six months. This is a low percentage, given that the rule is that such meeting shall be held. The doctor shall participate in the dialogue meeting if expedient, among other things in order to shed light on the possibilities for the individual being active. The investigation shows that doctors should participate in these meetings to a much greater extent than today. In the OAG’s opinion, it is necessary to improve NAV's efforts to ensure that the dialogue meetings are carried out in accordance with the Storting’s intentions.
Neither the Norwegian Labour and Welfare Administration nor the ministry has emphasised follow-up of people on sick leave who do not have an employer, and NAV does not have procedures for identifying people on sick leave who lose their employers. - It is unfortunate that there has been inadequate follow-up of people who lose their employer while they are sick, as they are at high risk of becoming permanently excluded from the labour market, says Auditor General Jørgen Kosmo.
For several years, the Storting has focused strongly on the follow-up of people on sick leave. - As there are no significant improvements in NAV's results, it is necessary to strengthen both the ministry and NAV’s efforts in the time ahead, concludes Mr Kosmo.
The Ministry of Labour states that the OAG’s investigation will be used in further development of the ministry's management and control in this area.
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The deferral of public access to documents prepared by or for the Office of the Auditor General in connection with Document No 3:5 (2010-2011), cf. the Act relating to the Office of the Auditor General section 18 second paragraph, is hereby set aside.