Disability Management (Return to Work)

Nov 10, 2014

As we approach the last installment of my series on disability management, I’d like to repeat the statistics that I shared in the introductory blog post because their significance cannot be understated.

After three months of absence, the likelihood of returning to work is 50%. After 12 months, the likelihood is approximately 2%. These sobering statistics are important to bear in mind as we talk about return to work programs.

In light of the above, if your organization is able to assist an employee back to work as quickly as reasonably possible, with consideration given to their restrictions/limitations, you can give your employees the best possible chance to return to gainful employment. The point at which a disabled employee is ready to return to work is an incredibly complex and challenging moment for the organization, the disabled employee, and his/her colleagues. It is, therefore, critical to establish an effective return to work program – one that encourages people to return to work, is accepting and welcoming of the disabled employee’s return, and meets the needs of the organization.

Most return to work programs begin with some combination of temporary, permanent, modified, or restricted duties based on the employee’s condition, restrictions and limitations, and is generally conducted on a gradual basis. Although it may take several weeks, or even months depending on the length of absence before a returning employee is fully productive, a supportive environment is critical to their success. A supportive environment will help ensure that the return to work has the best possible chance to succeed.

Over the past several blog entries, we’ve discussed the four major elements of a good disability management program – awareness, health promotion, disability prevention, and return to work programs. By creating a disability management program with all four of the above elements, you may be able to significantly reduce your costs of absenteeism, disability, and have a more productive and engaged workforce.

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By Peter Moffat on October 6, 2014

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