The adequacy of workplace accommodation and the incidence of permanent employment separations after a disabling work injury or illness

Publication type
Journal article
Mustard C, Orchard C, Dobson KG , Carnide N, Smith PM
Date published
2024 Mar 01
Scandinavian Journal of Work, Environment & Health
Open Access?

OBJECTIVE: This study aimed to estimate the influence of the adequacy of employer accommodations of health impairments in predicting permanent separation from the employment relationship in a cohort of workers disabled by a work-related injury or illness. METHODS: The study used data from a retrospective, observational cohort of 1793 Ontario workers who participated in an interviewer-administered survey 18 months following a disabling injury or illness. The relative risks (RR) of a permanent employment separation associated with inadequate employer accommodations were estimated using inverse probability of treatment weights to reduce confounding. RESULTS: Over the 18-month follow-up, the incidence of permanent separation was 30.1/100, with 49.2% of separations related to health status. Approximately 51% of participants experiencing a separation were exposed to inadequate workplace accommodations, compared to 27% of participants in continuing employment. The propensity score adjusted RR of a health-related separation associated with inadequate accommodation was substantial [RR 2.72; 95% confidence interval (CI) 2.20-3.73], greater than the RR of separations not related to health (RR 1.68; 95% CI 1.38-2.21). CONCLUSIONS: Incidence of permanent separation in this cohort of Ontario labor force participants was approximately two times more frequent than would be expected. The adequacy of employer accommodation was a strong determinant of the risk of permanent separation. These findings emphasize the potential for strengthened workplace accommodation practices in this setting