This month’s focus – Returning to work after disability leave
Tuesday, March 18, 2014
Consider absenteeism, which is frequent or persistent absence from work. According to the Conference Board of Canada, the average cost of workplace absenteeism in 2011-12 was $16.6 billion and the average absenteeism rate among Canadian organizations in 2011 was 9.3 days a year, per full time employee. However, despite the high costs of absenteeism, less than half of Canadian organizations currently track employee absences.
- Acquiring specific and objective medical information about the individual’s fitness for work.
- When an employee does not have a complete understanding of their condition and wants to return to work too soon or is too hesitant to return to work.
- When the employer has limited, meaningful and productive modified duties available to the worker.
- Communication challenges, with health providers and between employers and/or employees.
- Early intervention - start contact with the employee right from the beginning of the absence.
- Ongoing, regular follow up while the employee is absent, to keep up a connection to the workplace and give employers a clear and accurate picture of the employee's progress.
- Obtaining appropriate medical documentation. This is vital in determining what limitations the employee have and what accommodations the employee may require.
- Close collaboration and open communication. During return to work planning all stakeholders should be informed of the process and have an opportunity to provide input.
- Consider a return to work meeting involving all stakeholders. Joanne usually conducts these on the first day back when someone has been off for a long period of time or with employees who have had complex mental health issues.
- A clear and detailed return to work plan with timelines, an outline of expectations, detailed descriptions of limitations/modified duties and accountabilities for all stakeholders is also recommended.