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Company integration management (BEM) - What you need to bear in mind

July 12, 2024
Two employees conduct a BEM discussion

Definition of BEM

Company integration management (BEM) - What you need to bear in mind Systematic and structured processwhich aims to achieve this, Employees after prolonged illness or in the event of health impairments again into the work process. The aim is to maintain or restore the ability to work of those affected and to secure their employment in the long term.

When do you have to offer a BEM?

Legal basis for company integration management

The The legal basis for the BEM is set out in Section 167 (2) SGB IX (Social Code Book Nine):

"If employees are unfit for work for more than six weeks without interruption or repeatedly within a year, the employer shall clarify with the competent employee representative body and the persons concerned the possibilities of how the incapacity for work can be overcome, what benefits or assistance can be used to prevent renewed incapacity for work and how the job can be maintained."

A BEM procedure must be offered to employees if they in the last twelve months either longer than six weeks at a time or Unable to work several times were. In addition, employees can also initiate a BEM procedure if Requestif, due to illness endangered are, even before the six weeks of incapacity for work have been reached.

Objectives of the BEM

  • Promotion of health: A central objective of the BEM is the long-term preservation and promotion of employees' health. Targeted measures are designed to stabilise and strengthen the health of those affected.
  • Avoidance of incapacity for work: Early and preventive measures are intended to prevent new sickness absences. This not only helps the employees, but also the company, as it maintains productivity.
  • Preservation of the workplace: A key objective of BEM is to secure the jobs of employees. Individualised adjustments and support are intended to prevent them from losing their job due to health restrictions.
  • Reduction of costs: Sickness-related absences cause considerable costs for companies. BEM helps to reduce these costs by minimising downtime and increasing productivity.
  • Reduction of health hazards that can be influenced by the company: By identifying and eliminating health risks in the company, health impairments caused by work are to be reduced, for example by ensuring occupational safety.

The BEM process

1. initiation of proceedings

The BEM procedure is initiated as soon as an employee has been unfit for work for more than six weeks within a twelve-month period. The employer must inform the employee concerned Invite in writing and explain the objectives of the BEM.

2. letter of invitation

The invitation letter informs the employee about the reasons and objectives of the BEM as well as the voluntary nature of participation and data protection. It contains an invitation to take part in an interview, although the employee is not obliged to do so.

3. the BEM discussion

The BEM meeting serves to analyse the employee's current work situation and health restrictions. Topics of the discussion can be, for example

  • Causes of incapacity for work
  • Options for adapting the workplace
  • Potential support measures on the part of the company
  • Measures to promote individual health
  • Discussion on reduction in periods of incapacity for work
  • Options for early retirement

4. follow-up interviews (optional)

 Depending on the doctor's recommendation and the progress of the BEM process, further discussions may be necessary to review the effectiveness of the measures and adjust them if necessary.

5. final declaration

At the end of the BEM process, a final declaration is drawn up and signed by both parties. This declaration documents the measures discussed and their implementation.

NOTE: As soon as the employee's consent under data protection law has been obtained and BEM meetings take place, the minutes of the meetings and medical documents must be kept in a separate BEM file that is physically separated from the employee's personnel file. This separate BEM file must be destroyed no later than three years after completion of the BEM. Only the BEM invitation, the data protection consent, the agreement to carry out the BEM and the written documentation of the BEM result may be added (in copy) to the general personnel file.

Employee signs a data protection consent form for the BEM interview

Stakeholders involved in company integration management

1. employer

The Employer is obliged by law, to offer and implement the BEM. They are responsible for organising and implementing the process. The company must ensure that all necessary measures are taken to support the employee.

2. employees

Participation in the BEM is voluntary for the employee. The employee has the right to accept or reject the offer. However, the employee should actively participate in the process and openly communicate their needs and restrictions.

3. works council

The works council plays a central role in company integration management (BEM) through its co-determination in the design and implementation of the process. It supports the employees concerned, monitors compliance with data protection and voluntary participation, and ensures fairness and transparency. It also collects feedback for continuous improvement and can intervene as a mediator in the event of conflicts.

4. external consultants and institutions

Depending on requirements, external consultants such as company doctors, health insurance companies or rehabilitation providers can be brought in to support the BEM process and provide specialist expertise, but this is not a must.

IMPORTANT NOTE FOR EMPLOYERS: In many cases in which a BEM is to be carried out in accordance with Section 167 (2) sentence 1 SGB IX, employers could be faced with a Termination due to illness come into question.

The good news for employers: If they do not fulfil their legal obligation and do not carry out a BEM before a dismissal due to illness or make mistakes in the process, they do not automatically lose the dismissal protection proceedings. In such proceedings, the court does not automatically decide that the dismissal is invalid.

The bad news for employersWithout a (correct) BEM, the court must assume that there would have been alternative employment options for the dismissed employee, i.e. a milder means than dismissal to counteract future absences. Dismissal is then not the mildest means of reacting to the contractual disruption due to illness and, without prior BEM, violates the principle of the last resort.

Employers can only prevail in court if they can convince the court that a correctly conducted BEM would have been useless. However, this requires proof in accordance with the case law of the Federal Labour Court.

Who is authorised to conduct the BEM meetings?

BEM meetings are usually conducted by specially trained persons in the company. These can be employees from the HR department, company doctors, external BEM consultants or an occupational safety specialist. It is important that the person has sufficient knowledge in the areas of labour law, health protection and occupational reintegration. Most companies benefit from this officially appoint an authorised BEM representative and entrust them with the associated tasks.

Employees at the reintegration interview

Challenges and success factors of gradual reintegration

  • Acceptance and communication:
    Transparent communication and the involvement of all stakeholders are crucial for success. All stakeholders must be informed about objectives, processes and data protection guidelines.
  • Customisation:
    Every case is unique and requires individual solutions. The measures must be adapted to the specific needs of the sick employee.
  • Resources and support:
    Management must provide sufficient resources and support in order to organise the BEM process effectively. This includes both financial resources and personnel support.

Best practices for a successful BEM process

Successful BEM concepts show that a Close cooperation between all parties involved and flexible adaptation of measures are crucial are. Here are some concrete examples of how best practices can be implemented:

  1. Interdisciplinary co-operationA successful BEM concept often involves close cooperation between different departments and external experts such as company doctors, social workers or rehabilitation organisations. This interdisciplinary cooperation enables comprehensive support for the employee concerned and a holistic approach to their health problems.
  2. Customised action planningInstead of relying on generic solutions, the BEM measures should be customised to the needs and abilities of the employee. This can include adapting the workplace, flexible working hours, ergonomic aids or occupational rehabilitation measures.
  3. Communication and transparencyOpen and transparent communication between the employer, employee and other parties involved is crucial to the success of the BEM. This includes regular discussions, clear information about the process and the involvement of the employee in the decision-making process.
  4. Prevention and health promotionBest practices : Best practices place a strong focus on the prevention of illness and the promotion of health in the workplace. This can be achieved through stress management programmes, ergonomics training, healthy eating or sports activities.
  5. Continuous evaluation and adaptationA successful BEM concept includes a continuous review of the effectiveness of the measures and an adjustment according to the changing needs of the employee. This enables long-term support and safeguarding of the employee's ability to work.

These examples show how best practices can be implemented in the BEM in order to promote and maintain employees' health and ability to work in the long term.

Conclusion: Why you shouldn't ignore integration management

Company integration management is a important and even mandatory instrument, around the to promote and maintain employees' health and ability to work. It offers benefits for both employees and the company by increasing productivity and reducing costs.

The importance of BEM will continue to grow in the future, as the world of work is increasingly characterised by health challenges. New technologies and approaches in occupational health management will hopefully further develop and improve the BEM.

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