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What health conditions are keeping employees from work?

Plan sponsors don’t typically capture the reason for a casual absence in terms of a medical condition, says Paula Allen, vice-president of research and integrative solutions at Morneau Shepell Ltd. “But from talking to and surveying employees and looking at . . . health issues in the workplace, we have a pretty good sense.” For instance, there are seasonal spikes in absenteeism, she says, such as a bad flu season. “The other thing we see across the board is pain. There are a lot of employees suffering from pain from different conditions, usually musculoskeletal — so back pain, joint pain, repetitive strain — and they tend to be a risk of disability, not just absence.”

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