The economic cost of return to work: an employer's perspective.
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BACKGROUND: Although return-to-work (RTW) interventions have been shown to be cost-effective, most previous economic analyses have focused on the insurer's perspective. Employers can also incur costs when supporting the RTW of their employees. OBJECTIVE: To identify a key set of items for estimating the costs of RTW interventions from the employer's perspective, and to identify and value the costs and consequences of a RTW intervention. PARTICIPANTS: Employers with knowledge of the economic costs of RTW. METHODS: A survey of 10 workplaces with RTW programs was conducted. The survey consisted of semi-structured interviews with a human resources or occupational health and safety representative from each enrolled workplace. RESULTS: The interviews were reviewed and from them key items were identified for estimating the costs of RTW interventions from the employer's perspective. Employers identified the following costs: medical, equipment, training and education, wage replacement and productivity, and claims administration when assisting an employee's RTW. CONCLUSIONS: Even in a jurisdiction with workers' compensation insurance, employers incur costs associated with RTW programs. It is important to consider these costs, from the perspective of the employer, when studying the cost-effectiveness of RTW interventions or programs.
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