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The DSM-5 – Increased costs for employers?


The DSM-5 has arrived. Despite what employers and disability providers may think about the changes, there is no choice but to deal with this revised and authoritative text on mental disorders.

Why should employers care about the DSM-5?

DSM-5 stands for the “Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders”. The DSM-5 is the leading text on mental disorders for medical professionals (and insurers like the WSIB). To the extent that an employee’s medical condition “fits” within the DSM-5, such condition is likely to be found a disability and therefore entitle that employee to disability benefits (e.g. through insurance, WSIB, or employer plans), the protections of human rights legislation and to be accommodated in the workplace. Notably, the DSM-5 recognizes new mental disorders, and changes the criteria for some existing disorders. As our colleagues in B.C. point out, there are new disorders such as Caffeine Withdrawal, Cannabis Withdrawal, Mild Neurocognitive Disorder, Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder, and treating extended grief over the loss of a loved one as depression.

With these “new disorders” and other changes, there will likely be additional instances of mental disorders diagnosed for employees. After all, if a definition is broadened more people will fall into it. Therefore, this will justify more leaves for employees which, in turn, will drive up employer benefit premium costs and accommodation costs. It probably is not just speculation to state that dealing with disabled employees is likely to become more costly for employers.

Please refer to our B.C. colleagues’ piece (link provided above) on the DSM-5 which contains additional information on the science and competing arguments behind the new publication.

Daniel Pugen
Ontario Employer Advisor
Published with permission from McCarthy Tétrault LLP

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Employer Advisor, McCarthy Tétrault LLP

Employment and labour lawyers at McCarthy Tétrault LLP
McCarthy Tétrault through their Employer Advisor blogs offers their perspectives on the latest legal developments applicable to the workplace. It provides their insights on legislative and regulatory developments, as well as new case law, while providing practical tips for employers and their human resources professionals when managing the workforce. McCarthy Tétrault is a Canadian law firm that delivers integrated business law, litigation services, tax law, real property law, labour and employment law nationally and globally. Several of their blog posts will be republished with permission on First Reference Talks. Read more
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