Aim To determine whether enterprises belonging to the Bank of Models of Good Practice were more successful than average Norwegian enterprises in the reduction of sickness absence, promotion of early return to work, and prevention of early retirement. Methods In 2004 we selected 86 enterprises with a total of approximately 90 000 employees from the Inclusive Working Life (IWL) Bank of Models of Good Practice. One representative of workers and one of management from each enterprise received a questionnaire on the aims, organization, and the results of the IWL program by mail. Data on sickness absence, use of early retirement, and disability retirement in the 2000-2004 period were collected from the National Insurance Registry. Data on comparable enterprises were obtained from the National Bureau of Statistics. Results The response rate was 65%. Although the IWL campaign was directed at reducing sickness absence, preventing early retirement, and promoting employment of the functionally impaired, most attention was paid to reducing sickness absence. Sickness absence rate in Models of Good Practice enterprises (8.2%) was higher than in comparable enterprises that were not part of the Models of Good Practice (6.9%). Implementation of many IWL activities, empowerment and involvement of employees, and good cooperation with the occupational health service were associated with a lower rate of sickness absence. On average, 0.7% new employees per year received disability pension, which is a significantly lower percentage than expected on the basis of the rate of 1.3% per year in comparable enterprises. Frequent use of disability pensioning was associated with high rate of sickness absence and having many employees older than 50 years. On average, 0.4% employees per year received early retirement compensation, which was expected on the basis of national estimates. Frequent use of early retirement was associated with having many employees older than 50 years. Conclusion Models of Good Practice enterprises had a higher than expected sickness absence rate. This indicates that it is difficult to identify Models of Good Practice enterprises and that they cannot be treated as role model enterprises. Good cooperation with the occupational health service and the empowerment and involvement of the employees is associated with a low sickness absence rate.