Helping employees back to work following illness or injury is essential if we are to reduce the costs to the organisation of employee ill-health and absence and reduce the impact of not working on the physical, psychological and social health of employees.
A return to work programme is one way of providing support to employees who may be regaining physical and psychological strength following illness or injury but may not be able to work their full, normal duties. It is not intended to be used for return following common or minor illness that may resolve in a few days.
A return to work programme should be designed and agreed on an individual basis. It is necessary to have a consistent approach to all employees and not only to consider the individual concerned but also the needs of colleagues and the operational requirements of the service. These needs may appear to conflict at times but in many cases a creative approach can resolve any potential barriers.
It is worth considering the following:
- Is alternative work available of the same grade?
- Is there a way of making the work lighter and less stressful for a period of time?
- Can duties be rearranged within a team on a temporary or permanent basis?
- How can a phased return to work be supported?
- Asking Occupational Health to arrange an ergonomic assessment
- Is funding available from the organisation or external schemes such as “Access to Work” for equipment or other support resources?
- What specialist adaptive equipment may be available to assist the employee to perform work tasks?
- How does the Equality Act 2010 affect your decisions?
Think about referring the employee to us early on in longer term absence so we can work together to keep the time away from work to a minimum and improve the employee's chances of a successful return.
We work collaboratively with other specialists too so we all can make sure that a safe return to work and a functional capacity for the job with the employee being central to the process.