Returning to work after any long absence always takes some adjustment, but when an accident and/or injuries caused your absence, circumstances get a lot more complicated. It can be a daunting prospect to return to your job as you may be struggling with psychological trauma, a lack in confidence or even new physical limitations due to your injury. You may even have the additional worry of having to get to grips with a new role or new colleagues. However, there are ways to prepare yourself and several legal requirements which your employer has to meet which should make your return to work as smooth as possible.
Stay in contact during recovery
While you are recovering from your accident, it’s best to stay in touch with your employer on a regular basis. It’s likely that they may be wary about contacting you in case they are seen to be pressurising you into returning to work or adding stress to your situation, so it may be better if the contact comes from you. Keeping them updated on your progress at regular intervals will open a dialogue so they can keep you abreast of any big workplace changes you need to be aware of and if/when/how you will be able to return to work. It’s crucial, however, that you don’t return to work before you’re fully recovered.
When you return to work
When you are fit enough to return to work it’s normal for you to meet with your employer or manager before your first day. This is usually not a formal meeting but intended to find out how you are, when you should return and what changes might need to be made to your role or work environment. You may, for example, have mobility issues which will require them to make adjustments such as adding ramps or a lift prior to your return.
In some cases, a phased return to work may be more appropriate. Rather than coming back to a full-time role, you may feel more comfortable working 1-2 days a week and gradually increasing this over a couple of months, or your role may be simplified or your workload made less demanding. If you have medical appointments to attend your employer should be able to accommodate your working hours around them.
If your accident occurred in the workplace and you are making a claim for compensation against your employer, it’s important to note that it is illegal for your employer to discriminate against you for exercising your legal right. Accident claims UK need to be made within 3 years to be able to be considered.
Good communication is key to ensuring a smooth and stress-free return to work, so keep talking even when you are back at work. Ideally, your employer will recognise the skills and value you bring to the company and will want to do everything they can to help you return to work. To do this they need to understand your condition and any potential side effects of medication and your challenges, some of which will not be evident to either of you at first.
If you are struggling after you have returned to work, speak to them and try to work together to reach a solution. It may be that a different role would be more suitable or that you simply need more time to ease yourself back in.