Returning to work after sickness or injury leave can be a daunting process for some. After a period of being unwell or injured, a person can feel incapacitated and left out in the workplace. On top of that, lingering effects of injury or sickness may prevail and affect their work performance.
It is crucial for employers to provide adequate support for employees who are returning to work after an injury. The UK government, through the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), has noted relevant laws that will guide employers to manage sick leave and return to work. The laws include the Equality Act, the Employment Rights Act and the Health and Safety at Work etc Act.
Additionally, employers should have support measures in place for employees who have returned with injuries. These measures will be discussed below.
When an employee goes on sick leave, it is crucial that the employer stays in contact with the employee to keep tabs on their health and wellbeing. Knowing their condition and how it is progressing can help employers to manage the workplace in their absence and strategize their return. The injured employee will also feel less isolated and distanced from the workplace, eliminating the anxiety of being left out and not knowing the situation at the workplace. It should be noted though that employers should ensure not to distress the employee by calling or frequently emailing when they are not feeling well.
Involving Health Service Professionals
As soon as an employee is absent due to sickness or injury, it is important for the employer to have some understanding of the employee’s condition. This is especially necessary if the absence lasts for more than seven days, in which a doctor’s note should be supplied. This note will help the employer understand the condition further and help the employer to manage their return and absence.
Having Proper Return-to-Work Plans
With a proper understanding of the employee’s injury or sickness, the employer can implement proper plans for their return. Employers should have policies in place within the employee handbook to manage these situations. Having a clear designated plan or programme for their employees’ return after sick leave will help them reintegrate into the workplace.
Consider Reasonable Adjustments
Once an employee returns from injury or sick leave, it is important that the employer understands what their limitations are. Often their condition does not immediately go away, and reasonable adjustments may be necessary for them to resume work. Employers should also understand that the individual may not be at their usual work capability and may require some lenience and lessen their workload. Employees will feel secure and supported in their role when their employers show that they care about their health and will adjust to their condition. This sense of security is crucial to avoid future issues, such as re-occurring absences due to existing health conditions.
Following these suggested measures can go far in maintaining and improving employee health and well-being. Implementing active steps to support employees’ return from injury or sick leave will help them reintegrate into their work so that in due time they will be able to work at their usual capacity and capability.