We determined the prevalence of work disability in early rheumatoid arthritis (ERA) and undifferentiated early inflammatory arthritis (EIA) patients at first enrollment into the Canadian Early Arthritis Cohort (CATCH) who met the 2010 ACR criteria versus those not meeting criteria, to determine the impact of meeting new criteria on work disability status. Data at first visit into the cohort were analyzed. Descriptive statistics and logistic regression analyses were performed to investigate the association of other variables in our database with work disability. 1,487 patients were enrolled in the CATCH study, a multi-site observational, prospective cohort of patients with EIA. 934 patients were excluded (505 based on missing criteria for ACR 2010 classification, as anti-CCP was absent, and 429 were not working for other reasons). Of the 553 patients included, 71 % were female with mean disease duration of 6.4 months. 524 (94.8 %) were employed while 29 (5.2 %) reported work disability at first visit. There were no differences between those meeting 2010 ACR criteria versus those who did not. Baseline characteristics associated with work disability were male gender, age, education, income, HAQ, and positive RF status. The mean HAQ score in work disabled patients was 1.4 versus 0.9 in those who were working (p 50 years; p = 0.3), lower education (p = 0.3) or RF positivity (p = 0.6). We found rates of work disability to be low at entry into this EIA cohort compared to previous studies. There may be potential for intervention in ERA to prevent the development of work disability.