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How to return to work gradually and normally after prolonged sickness?

  • October 17, 2017
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It is very difficult to return to work after a prolonged illness, whether it is after a couple of months or years. Leave from work can result in loss of confidence and development of fear and anxiety. Whenever you decide to get back to work, it is important to realize that this task is a team effort which requires the efforts of your employer, your doctor and most importantly you.

Gradual return to work should occur in phases. Every employee returning from prolonged sickness has a different situation; hence the solutions planned should be flexible and well-arranged.

Ø  Role of doctor!          

Your doctor can provide a ‘fit note’, which describes how your health might affect your work abilities. This note can provide potential advice to the employer about the changes that can be induced which could help you to get back to work easily such as increasing the amount of work tasks and work hours gradually, altering the number of hours of work, changing the tasks that you perform at work.

Ø  Role of employer!

While being at leave, it is beneficial to discuss your ‘return to work plan’ with your boss, such as, suggesting the date of return and changes to be induced in your workplace. Your employer can help you to return to work comfortably by making physical changes for your comfort at work, offering refresher trainings, allowing you to work from home, changing your daily work tasks.

Ø  Your role!

It is very daunting to re-enter the work place after prolonged leave, but it is important to realize that worrying about it or feeling anxious would only worsen your situation. You have to build up confidence, take charge of your situation and plan accordingly. While away from work, keep in contact with your employer and some of your colleagues. Focus on what you can do when you return. Give time to yourself and be positive.

Benefits of a phased return to work:

For employees:

  • Getting back to work brings confidence and feeling of wellbeing as well as financial security
  • It boosts self-confidence and instills self-respect in employees.
  • It fastens their recovery from illness and prevents relapse.

For employers:

  • Good treatment given to employees who return after illness creates a positive work culture and boosts the  morale of other employee
  • Helps to increase staff retention and reduce recruitment costs.
  • Early return of an employee to work reduces the costs of employer and the need of others to cover the work.

Developed by Scientific Angle brought to you by Health Meter Services

Disclaimer: Don’t follow any suggestions in this article without consulting a qualified doctor

Sources: 1. “Phased return to work after sickness absence.” https://fitforwork.org/blog/phased-return-to-work-after-sickness-absence/. 2. “Phased return to work: Your questions answered.” http://www.jobsite.co.uk/worklife/phased-return-work-questions-answered-23100/. 3. “How to get back to work after sick leave.” https://www.bupa.co.uk/newsroom/ourviews/Returning-to-work-after-illness.