Take up thy bed and work

It’s often difficult to get labour and business to agree on much of anything. On September 14-15, however, the Yukon Federation of Labour and…

It’s often difficult to get labour and business to agree on much of anything.

On September 14-15, however, the Yukon Federation of Labour and Chamber of Commerce will be organizing a return-to-work symposium together.

The symposium, the first of its kind in the North, will be held at the Whitehorse Inn and will include Yukon employers, workers and healthcare professionals.

Workplace safety has become a priority for both labour and business, said Yukon Federation of Labour President Alex Furlong.

“Both of us share a common belief that safer workplaces lead to successful and healthy relationships between employers and employees.”

But what happens after someone does become injured at work?

“The mentality when you’re on compensation, is to stay there as long as possible,” said Furlong.

“But all the studies conclude that the longer a person is off work, the less likely they are to go back to work.”

Employers benefit from having their workers back earlier; workers’ compensation costs are lower and injured workers heal faster if they are allowed to return to work sooner.

“We see it as an educational issue for both workers and employers,” said Rob McIntyre from the Yukon Chamber of Commerce.

“To get workers to understand that you don’t have to stay off for seven weeks — you can come back sooner.

“And get employers to understand that you can change the job.”

Workers that are no longer able to do physical labour, may be able to help out around the office, said Furlong.

“And there’s a large value to having the injured worker’s knowledge still around the workplace.”

More than $100,000 has been budgeted for the symposium but financial and social costs of not doing it are much higher, said Doug Rody from the Federation of Labour.

The symposium will be one of the very few cases in Canada where business and labour are jointly sponsoring something to do with workers’ compensation, said Furlong.

“We try to be open to working with all partners and I think this will be something that will go right across the country.”