Making a Business Case for Disability Management

In order to demonstrate the financial benefits of sound disability management programs, practitioners draw upon data collected from their won organization or findings from the research and cost-benefit analyses of others. Obviously, data from one’s own organization is the most effective, but is not available before the program is in place or in its early stages. At these stages, practitioners may find the experience of other organizations, especially those in related industries, useful. During the implementation of a disability management program, it is important to collect data on program effectiveness, so that the financial benefits of the program may be determined.

In addition to the financial benefits that arise from a workplace-based disability management program, there are many intangible benefits such as an improved productive relationship with disabled employers and unions that accrue from providing return to work support. However, a positive cost-benefit ration is essential to gaining and maintaining the support of senior management. The costs and benefits that should be taken into consideration include the following:


The following are costs incurred by having a disability management program:

  • Salary and benefits for RWC coordinator (if not full-time, then the portion attributable to RTW functions) and/or cost of disability management and return-to-work services provided by an external provider
  • General administrative costs such as space, equipment, supplies, accounting and other HR services attributable to RTW
  • Program administration costs for such items as brochures, disability management information packages for workers, supervisors and community service providers
  • Total cost of time spent by joint labour-management committee, supervisors and others in planning return to work either at a policy level or for individual workers
  • Costs pain by employer to outside providers for such services as functional capacity evaluations, ergonomics or assistive technology expertise
  • Assistive devises or special equipment purchased by the employer
  • Renovations to the work station or the work area
  • Training costs borne by the employer


Generally, the benefits of disability management are the cost savings that result from a managed early return to work versus the likely period of work absence without such a program. Employers save money because:

  • Less funding is needed due to reduced claims duration
  • The need to pay overtime to get work normally performed by workers who are absent is reduced
  • The costs of recruiting and training new employees to replace injured/ill workers are reduced
  • Lost productivity due to the absence of experienced workers is minimized
  • Fewer employees end up on long-term disability

In addition, overall insurance costs may decrease or rebates may be obtained as a company reduces the benefits paid out by insurance providers for workers compensation and short or long-term disability programs. In some jurisdictions and organizations, failure to accommodate workers with disabilities has also resulted in grievances and litigation. Another area of cost savings for an organization results from avoiding either of these potentially expensive processes.