Incentives-based approaches to support stay at work/return to work: an environmental scan

Reasons for the study

Work disability is increasingly recognized as an issue that affects most people at some point in their lives, either directly or via a loved one, friend, or colleague. Work disability is defined as a functional limitation (whether permanent, temporary, or episodic in nature) that, in interaction with barriers (including social/attitudinal and in the built environment), hinders a person’s full and equal participation in the labour force and paid employment activities.

Canada's future labour force productivity, as well as global competitiveness, is contingent on the inclusion of all adults who can and want to work, regardless of their ability status. The aging of the labour force and related onset of chronic/episodic health conditions, high rates of unemployment/non-participation among persons with disabilities, financial pressures on social safety net and disability support programs, as well as looming shortages of labour, all point to a pressing need to act. The COVID-19 pandemic has further exacerbated the issue, with ongoing research shedding light on the longer-term impacts of the pandemic on disability and employment.

Objectives of the study

  • Determine the types of incentives that promote stay at work/return to work. 
  • Determine the key contextual factors associated with effective incentives. 
  • Examine whether there are additional benefits or risks to these incentives beyond stay at work/return to work.

Target audience

Workers’ compensation boards, private disability insurers, employers, unions, human resources and disability prevention professionals, workers, and policy makers are primary audiences for this research

Project status


Research team

Collaborators and partners


Funded by

Ministry of Labour, Immigration, Training and Skills Development (MLITSD), WorkSafeBC