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Standards Creep Into Law

While Canada’s new ‘National Standard on Psychological Health and Safety in the Workplace’ is voluntary, these measures can creep in legislation and adjudicator decisions, says Kristin Taylor, of Cassels Brock. Speaking at the CPBI Ontario region seminar on the new standard, she said there is going to be a new reality and employers will need to manage their workplaces to accommodate the standards to mitigate risk in the event legal action is taken. Marg Bellman, of Sun Life Financial, presented the business case for accommodating the standards. These included the need to mitigate risk as well as cost benefits, the attraction and retention of employees, and creating an atmosphere of organizational excellence. She said there is a return on investment. Wellness programs have been shown to reduce employee absence by 1.5 to 1.7 days per year. With the average absence, this can mean a savings of more than 10 per cent in absence costs. Chris MacDonald, of Manulife Financial, said approximately 7.5 million Canadians suffer from mental illness and the current cost of mental illness in the workplace is $51 billion. The cost of doing nothing means the total benefit cost for mental health will grow from just under $3,800 now to almost $5,000 by 2014. Keeping employees on the job is critical, she said, as employees on disability are more likely to need a second leave.

Courtesy of Benefits and Pensions Monitor website News Alerts

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