Disability Management Programs Can Help Employers Curb the Cost of Absenteeism

Oct 08, 2013, 09:40 ET from Conference Board of Canada

Absenteeism cost Canadian economy more than $16 billion in 2012

OTTAWA, Oct. 8, 2013 /CNW/ - Absenteeism is a business issue for Canadian organizations —it decreases productivity substantially in their workplaces and in the economy as a whole. Organizations can limit the negative effects of absent workers by implementing an effective disability management program. A new Conference Board of Canada publication outlines how employers can institute comprehensive workplace disability management programs to help control health-related costs.

"There is a solid business case for implementing a disability management program in the workplace," said Louise Chenier, Senior Research Associate. "In 2011-12, absenteeism cost Canadian organizations an average of 2.4 per cent of gross payroll. This may seem like an insignificant amount at first, but it adds up to an overall loss of more than $16.6 billion to the Canadian economy."

  • Absenteeism takes many forms, ranging from casual absences—employees off with minor illnesses lasting one or a few days—to longer leaves of absence.
  • A disability management program must focus on health promotion and disability prevention, and on helping employees return to work after absences.
  • In 2011-12, the average direct cost of workplace absenteeism in Canada was $16.6 billion.

The Conference Board study, Creating an Effective Workplace Disability Management Program, outlines the common elements of successful programs, which include:

  • a focus on disability prevention and health promotion;
  • a commitment to the safe and timely return to work of employees on health-related leaves of absence; and
  • an organizational approach that sustains the objectives of the disability management program.

This publication is the second of a three-part series. The first publication, Missing in Action—Absenteeism Trends in Canadian Organizations, was released in September.

The third publication, Disability Management: Opportunities for Employer Action, provides advice and guidance for organizations to more effectively manage absenteeism. These findings will be presented on October 28-29 in Toronto at the Conference Board event, Disability Management and Benefits 2013: Driving Productivity with Effective Workplace Practices.

The Conference Board, in partnership with Sun Life Financial, Cira Medical Services, and Acclaim Ability Management Inc., will be launching a series of workshops to highlight effective strategies and best practices for employers in the areas of disability management, accommodation, and return to work.

This research was funded by Morneau Shepell, Sun Life Financial, Centric Health, Banyan Work Health Solutions, Sanofi Canada, and The Conference Board of Canada's Canadian Alliance for Sustainable Health Care (CASHC).

SOURCE Conference Board of Canada