Canadian employers face a range of obligations around helping employees with disabilities to return to work. What are some of the ways they can meet that obligation?


“In order to meet this obligation, plan sponsors should work in good faith, with the employee and the insurer, to bring the employee back,” said Dr. Arif Bhimji, a medical consultant with Alberta Blue Cross, during a presentation at the Calgary Benefits Summit in April. “Not only is it a smart thing to do financially and for your workforce, it’s also a legal requirement. And we should be doing it because it’s the right thing to do, not just because it’s legally required.”


Insurance providers and employers both play a role in helping employees return after time away from work as a result of a disability. Providing the right support at the right time can make the difference between a successful return to work and a potentially prolonged absence, Bhimji noted.


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“Let’s collaborate,” he said. “The reason we should all collaborate is that medical providers and employers get better outcomes for employees when they work together.”


When an employee is off work, the likelihood of return drops by half if the person is away for just six months. And if the time away from work rises to a year, “75 per cent of those people are never coming back and, if you wait two years, it’s one per cent,” said Bhimji.

What does collaboration look like?


According to Bhimji, it means taking all of the relevant information on the affected employee and crafting a plan to bring that individual back to work. The goal is to take a holistic approach to disability management that includes employees’ medical information, awareness of what’s been going in their personal life and understanding the workplace environment.


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When everyone works together to ensure accommodation in returning to work, the result will be lower costs and faster recoveries for employees, according to Bhimji.

Copyright © 2018 Transcontinental Media G.P. Originally published on

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