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About Fit for Work Europe

"We know that a fit workforce drives economic prosperity. Spending on early diagnosis and treatment is an investment, not a cost." Antonyia Parvanova, MEP and Fit for Work Co-president

Fit for Work Europe is a multi-stakeholder Coalition, driving policy and practice change across the work and health agendas. We aim to deliver more investment in sustainable healthcare by promoting and implementing early intervention practices. Research shows this approach is the most effective way of ensuring people with MSDs (musculoskeletal disorders) can enter and remain in work across the EU and globally.

Fit for Work Europe a project led by The Work Foundation and managed by four Co-presidents, each bringing a different perspective to the four workstreams – research, clinical work, policy and health economics – of the coalition:

Prof Stephen Bevan, Founding President of Fit for Work Europe and Director of the Centre for Workforce Effectiveness at the Work Foundation
Prof Paul Emery, Former President of EULAR, University of Leeds
Prof Dame Carol Black, Principal of Newnham College Cambridge, Expert Adviser on Health and Work to the Department of Health, England
Dr Antonyia Parvanova, Member of the European Parliament


Fit for Work Europe is supported by AbbVie and GE Healthcare.

Please check out our Governance for further details.
The economic and social cost of ignoring MSDs

Musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) are the leading cause of sickness absence in Europe, accounting for half of all absences and 60% of permanent work incapacity. In addition, MSDs can affect annual European GDP by up to 2%, representing around €240bn in costs to the continent. Some 100 million Europeans have MSDs, equivalent to the combined populations of Belgium, Germany and Austria. MSDs have profound health related impacts on quality of life and capacity to work, and their growing incidence is gradually decreasing labour productivity and undermining economic growth in Europe.

Our vision

Our aim is to change the way MSDs are always perceived as disabling conditions which prevent people from working. Our research shows that with the right support, many people with MSDs can return to work and that most people want to return to work. Our vision is to raise awareness of the facts around MSDs so that effective policies and innovative clinical practice support people with MSDs to return and stay in work.
Fit for Work Europe is composed of healthcare professionals, economic experts, employers, professional medical and patient associations, national groups and international organisations. Our vision is based on robust evidence which reveals early intervention practices are the most effective way of ensuring individuals and businesses remain productive. In these difficult economic times, this approach is more important than ever for the sustainability of Europe’s health, social and economic systems.

Supporting our vision

Our evidence has consistently shown the benefits for both society and the economy that arise through cross-policy collaboration with early intervention practices. This approach reduces work absenteeism and improves the recovery rates for working-age patients so they can remain in work. The outcomes are beneficial to both workplace productivity and labour market participation.
Fit for Work Europe is calling on government leaders and international organisations to recognise the vital importance of MSDs as they devise their health and welfare policies. At both national and European level, we must strengthen systemic cooperation on health issues between healthcare, welfare, financial departments and social care providers. The Fit for Work 2013-2014 Policy and Public Affairs Strategy proposes the following recommendations be implemented across European and national governments:
• Ensure long-term and cross-government healthcare investment is understood as a major sustainable route to maximise the clinical, economic and societal benefits of a healthy and productive workforce;

• Call for and implement early clinical interventions across Europe which support job retention and return to work for individuals. This should be coordinated and prioritised in healthcare, employment and social welfare settings and in policy goals;

• By 2020, MSDs should be prioritised among the most harmful Non-Communicable Disease (NCD) globally due to its significant impact on morbidity, co-morbidity, lost productivity, health inequalities and social exclusion;

• Work ability should be a high priority clinical outcome of treatment for all patients who wish to work or need to continue to work.

Read the latest Policy Statement we submitted to the Lithuanian Presidency of the European Union.

Our history

Originally founded in 2007 by The Work Foundation, Fit for Work has already expanded to cover over thirty countries in and beyond Europe. The success of Fit for Work Europe is rooted in its consistent delivery of rigorous, evidence-based analysis which proposes workable solutions to the societal and economic challenges of MSDs. In Europe, we focus on four main areas - research, clinical intervention, policy and health economics. Click to read the history of Fit for Work Europe

Abbvie logo
AbbVie is a global, research-based biopharmaceutical company formed in 2013 following separation from Abbott. The company’s mission is to use its expertise, dedicated people and unique approach to innovation to develop and market advanced therapies that address some of the world’s most complex and serious diseases. In 2013, AbbVie employs approximately 21,000 people worldwide and markets medicines in more than 170 countries. For further information on the company and its people, portfolio and commitments, please visit

GE Healthcare logo
GE Healthcare provides transformational medical technologies and services to meet the demand for increased access, enhanced quality and more affordable healthcare around the world. GE (traded as NYSE: GE) works on things that matter - great people and technologies taking on tough challenges. From medical imaging, software & IT, patient monitoring and diagnostics to drug discovery, biopharmaceutical manufacturing technologies and performance improvement solutions, GE Healthcare helps medical professionals deliver great healthcare to their patients. Please visit

The Work Foundation logo
The Work Foundation aims to be the leading independent, international authority on work and its future, influencing policy and practice for the benefit of society. The Work Foundation is part of Lancaster University – an alliance that enables both organisations to further enhance their impact. Through its rigorous research programmes targeting organisations, cities, regions and economies, The Work Foundation is a leading provider of research-based analysis, knowledge exchange and policy advice in the UK and beyond. For further information about our research centres including the Centre for Workforce Effectiveness, the Socio-Economic Centre and the Big Innovation Centre, please visit