Workplace disability management

More and more Canadian workplaces are setting up accommodation and return-to-work (RTW) programs to help ensure employees with work-related and non-work-related injuries and illnesses are able to remain at work or return to work as quickly as they are safely able to do so. The Institute for Work & Health (IWH) conducts extensive research into the workplace policies and procedures that most effectively help workers safely remain at and return to work, as well as system-level programs (e.g. those offered by workers’ compensation boards) that support workplaces in doing so. This research also explores life-course issues, work disability trajectories, RTW prognostic factors, and the scope and impact of chronic, episodic and other conditions that are not necessarily caused by work, but affect the ability of people to find and keep work.

Latest news and findings

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SSHRC/CIHR partnership grant funds research into accommodating workers with chronic conditions

Health conditions such as depression, Crohn’s disease and HIV have at least one thing in common. People with these conditions can be in good health for long periods of time and then experience bouts of debilitating symptoms. These recurring and hard-to-predict episodes can make asking for, and providing, workplace accommodation a challenge. Now, Dr. Monique Gignac is leading research aimed at making conversations around accommodation easier, thanks to funding from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) and Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR).

Read about the study
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Help us get this survey to young millennials with rheumatic disease

Despite advances in clinical care, millennial young adults with rheumatic disease continue to face challenges finding work and staying productive at work. Workplace policies can help overcome these challenges, but too often they’re aimed at older adults. An IWH study is currently under way to understand what supports millennials with rheumatic disease need from employers. This survey is a first step. Please help us get it into the hands of young workers with lupus, juvenile arthritis, scleroderma and other forms of rheumatic disease. Click on the survey or find out more about this project.

Go to the project page
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Men and women with arthritis have same workplace support needs, but different levels of access

Do men and women with arthritis have different workplace accommodation needs? And do they differ in their access to workplace supports to meet these needs? A study published by IWH’s Dr. Monique Gignac recently examined these questions. It found unequal levels of access to support, which can be explained by the types of work that men and women do.

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Economic analysis shows gains of accommodating people with mental illness

A study examining the business case for employing people with mental illnesses found a net benefit in each of the workplaces in which an accommodation cost-benefit evaluation was conducted. For employers, the economic benefits ranged from two to seven times the costs incurred. For the accommodated workers, they ranged from four to 12 times the costs.

Read about the study in At Work
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Study: Supervisors' first reaction to injury affects return-to-work outcomes

A supervisor’s supportive reaction to an injury—for example, by expressing empathy and reassurance instead of skepticism and blame—significantly increases the likelihood that the injured worker will successfully return to work. That’s according to a recent study conducted by a research team at the Institute for Work & Health (IWH) and Australia’s Monash University. 

Read about the study in At Work