Returning to work

Most businesses will have a return to work policy or a policy on long-term absences. These should be followed to ensure that the employee’s return to normal work, does not negatively affect their mental or physical health. 

When an employee is off sick for a prolonged period of time, the employer can check in to discuss how they are, but this conversation should not include anything about their job or work. As this can cause extra pressure and stress, which could in turn mean the employee returns to work before they should. 


Before the return to work 


When it has been decided that the employee is ready to return to work, a discussion should happen prior to this to discuss the logistics. This stage is to ensure that the employee returns to work safely, that they are comfortable with the arrangement, and that their health is not negatively affected. 


It’s a good idea to cover the below points: 

  • Ensuring that the employee is ready to return to work 
  • Any major or significant changes which have happened in the company during their absence 
  • Address any suggestions/ recommendations made by a medical professional 
  • Extra support is required 
  • Any reasonable adjustments which need to be made prior to the employee’s return to work 
  • The possibility of a phased return to work
  • Occupational health referral 


Reasonable adjustments 


For some people, a long-term absence can mean returning to work with a disability. In this case, by law, an employee must make reasonable adjustments. These can help the employee get back to work quicker, and prevent issues in the future. For more information, read the information regarding reasonable adjustments under the Equality Act 2010


Workstation assessments 


Only taking 30 minutes, our workstation assessments can reduce exposure to the effects of musculoskeletal issues. Providing advice on posture, ergonomics, and assessing hazards of the work area. The assessment includes vision screening, and posture advice, plus recommendations and advice on how to work safely in the workstation. 


Phased return to work 


With a phased return to work, it’s about finding the right balance for the employee, taking into consideration why they have been off sick long-term. This could include reduced hours or different or lighter duties. For example, if an employee previously worked Monday- Friday 9am until 5pm, a phased return to work could be Monday- Friday 10am until 3 pm, or Monday- Wednesday 9am until 5pm. This option should be considered and discussed between the employee and employer to see whether this would work. 


Contact Us 


If you have an employee, who feels that they would benefit from support from an occupational health specialist, please get in touch. We can assist both the employer and employee in this transition, providing advice and recommendations to make the process easy and stress-free for both parties. Visit our FAQs page, call us at 01260 277797, or email us at

Want to know more about the Occupational Health services we provide at Acorn, and how they could benefit your business and your employees? Please get in touch.