Managing your employees return to work after an injury or illness can be challenging for any employer. To add to the challenge, no two return to work situations are ever the same.
To help you with this process, we look at some common questions and provide you with some helpful tips below.
Common questions & misconceptions about the return to work process
The doctor has said my employee can commence back at work, but they are not 100% better yet. Is it too soon?
A safe and supportive return to work as soon as possible after an injury or illness usually means a quicker and simpler recovery. and return to productivity.This usually means returning to work before the employee is 100% fit.
Consider a sportsperson returning to playing sport after an injury. Part of their rehabilitation will involve a gradual re-introduction to playing the sport rather than only strengthening in the gym.
If someone has the capacity to do some aspects of their job but not others, talk about doing those parts of their job while still recovering. The psychological, social and physical benefits of someone being at work far outweighs the alternative option of them sitting at home waiting to recover.
It costs too much to have my employee back at work while they are still recovering from an injury. We need them back at 100%!
Let’s flip that thought around:
- What might it cost you to not have the person there?
- Will you be missing out on their knowledge and experience in the workplace?
- The value they add to the team dynamic?
- Will you need to get someone else in to fill their role?
If you can accommodate having your employee back at work (even to perform part of their usual role), that will be of value to both you and your employee. Providing an opportunity for them to stay at work helps keep work life as normal as possible until they are back up to full capacity.
My employee’s medical certificate says ‘fully unfit for work’ however I can offer alternative work in the meantime.
It is not uncommon for a medical certificate to be issued without the medical professional having a full understanding of the demands of the job or alternative options that are available. By thinking about what they can do, and offering suitable duties in line with that, a new medical certificate may be sought to support the employee recover at work.
A vocational rehabilitation consultant can assist you in this process by developing an appropriate plan based on the employee’s current abilities. They can also suggest options available and support getting further medical certification to support the plan.