Purpose – Based on the nursing occupation within the UK and The Netherlands' health sectors, which are both highly regulated with policies to increase inclusiveness, the purpose of this paper is to investigate the interplay between employment conditions and policy measures at sectoral level, in order to identify how these both facilitate and limit employment participation for disabled workers.
Design/methodology/approach – The research was exploratory in character using qualitative and comparative methods within a case study approach. It draws on statistical data, document analysis, focus group discussion and interviews with key actors in the health sectors in both countries.
Findings – Whether the social or medical model predominates, their combined use encourages the employment of disabled persons in the health sector. Arguably the social model, focusing on structural changes, can be seen as more enabling. The Dutch comparison shows that encouraging a sector-specific approach, with increased social partnership dialogue, facilitates the implementation of the social model, resulting in sectorally-appropriate enabling measures.
Practical implications – This research highlights the need for a sector-specific approach to disability policy, with development of sectoral monitoring data and evaluation of impact by the social partners.
Originality/value – While previous academic research focused on the aggregated (national) level only, this research investigates the interplay between training, employment, working conditions and policy measures at sectoral and occupational levels, with a view to identifying their influence on employment opportunities for persons with disabilities.