Inconsistency in health and disability management programs means employees in the greatest need may not get support

Morneau Shepell-sponsored study also finds room for improvement in the communication of disability programs and employer investment in mental health back-to-work programs

TORONTO, Oct. 28, 2013 /CNW/ - A new report released by The Conference Board of Canada and sponsored by Morneau Shepell (TSX: MSI) concludes that young workers and seniors are particularly vulnerable groups when it comes to situations when they need to take time off work due to an illness or disability. The report finds that fewer than 50 per cent of workers in these age groups are covered by employer sick leave and disability leave plans.

The Conference Board report, Disability Management: Opportunities for Employer Action, is the third in a three-part series of publications for which Morneau Shepell was a major sponsor. The publication provides advice and guidance for organizations to more effectively manage absenteeism, which cost the Canadian economy $16.6 billion in 2012. The study also highlighted that businesses have to assess what their employees need when it comes to designing appropriate disability management strategies and programs.

"There continues to be inconsistency in what is offered by employers in the areas of health and disability management," said Paula Allen, Morneau Shepell's Vice President of Research and Integrative Solutions. "Employers may not be fully leveraging some of the new developments that have occurred in workplace health."

"Organizations are better off to look at a holistic picture of what their employees need and build a health and wellness practice into their everyday business that addresses those needs. It would be great to get to the point where we don't need to use the term health program, and instead health and disability management is built in as a basic need for productivity."

The study also found that only 25 per cent of employees received communications within the past year from their employer regarding their organization's sick leave and disability programs. More than one half of employees indicated that they don't know how to access the programs and services provided by their employer to support their physical and mental health.

"In order for a disability management plan to be effective, it must be clearly communicated and employees have to be engaged and aware. It's a terrible waste when employers can't be sure that their employees in need are getting support. It is not always clear who needs support and when, and it's important that communication is ongoing or people will fall between the cracks," added Allen.

The report also concluded that although employers have made significant investments in the area of mental health coverage, it continues to lag behind physical disability in the area of back-to-work programs. The study found that 51 per cent of employees believe their organization provides support to help employees with physical health issues return to work as safely and quickly as possible, compared to 34 per cent who believe that same support is in place for mental health issues. According to Allen, "Given the high proportion of disability claims related to mental health, the gap needs to shrink."

Morneau Shepell has been a leader in designing and delivering industry changing disability case management solutions for organizations since 1998. The Company's case management addresses every type of disability claim, typically starting from the fifth day of absence, through to the return-to-work or the transition to long-term disability benefits, as required. The focus is on workplace support and resolution of the major drivers of employer costs and employee concerns, including mental health, multiple diagnoses and challenging accommodation issues. Morneau Shepell's integrative approach leverages multiple areas of expertise in health, benefits, employee support, workplace health and disability, to deliver seamless solutions for organizations.

About Morneau Shepell Inc.
Morneau Shepell is the largest company in Canada offering human resources consulting and outsourcing services. The Company is the leading provider of Employee and Family Assistance Programs, as well as the largest administrator of retirement and benefits plans. Through health and productivity, administrative, and retirement solutions, Morneau Shepell helps clients reduce costs, increase employee productivity, and improve their competitive position. Established in 1966, Morneau Shepell serves more than 8,000 clients, ranging from small businesses to some of the largest corporations and associations in North America. With approximately 3,300 employees in offices across North America, Morneau Shepell provides services to organizations across Canada, in the United States, and around the globe. Morneau Shepell is a publicly-traded company on the Toronto Stock Exchange (TSX: MSI). For more information, visit www.morneaushepell.com.

SOURCE: Morneau Shepell Inc.

For further information:

Nathan Gibson
Corporate Communications
Morneau Shepell
416-355-5632
ngibson@morneaushepell.com


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