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How to Avoid Long Term Disability in Your Workplace?

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18

Apr

How to Avoid Long Term Disability in your Workplace?

A recent article in Benefits Canada identifies 30% of all disability claims now relate to mental illness. If you are an employer in small business and do not have the resources internally to manage some of these difficult situations, you may need to find some outside help. Of course, the first step is to address employee performance problems early. It is well known that there is hesitancy of an employee to admit to mental health problems and so they do not seek treatment, which then escalates the problem both at work and at home. If you as the employer sense there are some mental health issues, the only way to address this is through a documented performance review where you relate any issues to how well the employee is carrying out their job responsibilities. If you do not help the employee address these performance issues in a measured documented way, you will have a major challenge in addressing the escalation of issues that will likely happen not only with the employee but the team as well.  

If issues have escalated and it appears that time away from work for treatment is needed, you may need to hire outside help such as a disability case manager, who will work with both you and your employee’s physician. The first task is to define a cognitive job description, which means drilling down as what are the essential knowledge and skills that the employee needs to do their current job. In addition, referrals can be made to community based mental health programs to assist in the employee’s recovery, as well as a plan for return to work, where there well may be changes in the employee’s role.

The fact is that the longer the employee is away from the workplace, the less likely they will return.  If there is not a return to work plan, you as an employer will have some long term challenges. More employers are recognizing the duty to accommodate mental illness.  You will need to ensure your managers can identify the signs of mental illness. Also, it is important to continuously work on developing a workplace culture that does not have a stigma to mental illness and that there is some peer support in the workplace. Mental health illness needs a collaborative team approach in helping an employee address mental health issues, and so enable him/her to return to as a functioning productive employee versus a disabled employee who goes on long term disability.

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