Canadians who have difficulty working because of their arthritis report fewer job disruptions when they use workplace supports, a study says.

The Institute for Work & Health (IWH) study also finds that employees report fewer problems with work tasks like concentrating or keeping up with the pace of work, and are less likely to change their work hours when using those supports.

Read: What employers need to know about rheumatoid arthritis

“Our evidence shows many individuals with arthritis don’t need special accommodations or practices beyond what some employers already offer,” says IWH senior scientist Dr. Monique Gignac and lead author of the study.

The types of workplace supports examined in the study are already available in many workplaces. No one benefit or accommodation will meet the needs of all arthritis sufferers.

The supports study participants say they need and use are (from most to least):

  • extended health benefits (50.2%);
  • special equipment (41.6%);
  • flexible hours (41.1%);
  • short-term leave (26%);
  • work-at-home arrangements (25.6%); and
  • modified schedules (24.7%).

Read: Impact of arthritis widespread

The study shows that those who are able to take advantage of workplace supports have better work outcomes than those without such supports. For example, workers with arthritis who need and use work-at-home arrangements report less job disruption, productivity loss and reduced hours compared to those who would have liked these arrangements but couldn’t use them.

While most people didn’t need short-term leave, those who need and use it report fewer work limitations, job disruptions, productivity losses and reduced hours compared to people who need short-term leave but don’t use it.

“As our workforce ages, employers need to be thinking about these policies and practices, making them more widely available—because it can make a difference,” says Gignac.

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Copyright © 2020 Transcontinental Media G.P. Originally published on

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