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Lost productivity attributed to workers compensation has declined over the past four years, while workdays lost to short-term and long-term disability and Family and Medical Leave Act leave have grown, according to a study from the Integrated Benefits Institute released Tuesday.
The Oakland, California-based nonprofit health research organization found that U.S. employers lost 978 million days of productivity in 2019 due to workers on sick leave, disability, FMLA leave and workers compensation. Using data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics and benchmarking data based on 66,000 U.S. employers, the researchers found that between 2015 and 2019, lost workdays due to employees receiving workers compensation declined a total of 44%, approximately 13% each year, while workdays lost to short-term disability and long-term disability increased by 11% and 3% each year, respectively. The researchers also found that during that four-year period, lost workdays for sick leave increased 12% and lost workdays due to FMLA leave increased 33%.
“The steady decline in workers’ compensation lost-time incidents is great,” Brian Gifford, director of research and analytics at IBI, said in a statement. “But five years on, the slow trend upwards in short- and long-term disability lost work time — which we might not have given much thought to from one year to the next — is something that employers need to get serious about addressing.”
The number of employees who may be covered by the various state laws and executive orders providing some level of compensability for workers who acquire COVID-19 on the job varies substantially based on workforce and the nature of the order, researchers from the Workers Compensation Research Institute found in a study released Tuesday.