Recovering from a serious injury comes with one fundamental priority: to get back to normality as quickly as possible. A major part of that lies into returning to work, but getting back into 9-5 life often requires a careful and considered process that needs to be respected, both by you and your employer.
That's because many accidents cause damage beyond physical injury. The emotional stress caused by a serious incident can often extend well past the physical impact, affecting your home, social and professional life. According to data from our Make It Right campaign, 72% of people who had an accident suffered from mental health problems as a result, with a third suffering mental health issues for one to two years afterwards. More concerningly, 70% of those suffering from mental health problems didn't receive the support they felt they needed.
Mental health is a topic that is becoming more talked about each day, but there is still an element of taboo around best approach, particularly in the workplace. It's imperative you have the support you need to return to work both physically and mentally fit, but what can your employer offer to make sure that happens?
Adjustments ahead of your return
If you have suffered an injury with long term or permanent implications, then it is up to your employer to make reasonable adjustments to accommodate you as per The Equality Act 2010. Often, "reasonable adjustments" are easy to make changes that cost your employer little to nothing, however they will make a huge difference to your comfort and wellbeing upon return.
Make sure to clearly communicate the extent of your injuries and requirements to your employer well in advance of your return to ensure they have the time to make the adequate preparations. Then, you can rest easy heading into your first day back.
The importance of good dialogue
Open and honest communication throughout your recovery process will be essential, but none more so than once you're back at work. Once you're well enough to go back, it's likely you'll be asked to attend a "return-to-work meeting". This will be a meeting with your manager to discuss your ability to resume duties and to what extent, and to see what additional accommodations need to be made.
Moreover, this is chance for both sides to manage expectations for the coming period and agree on a suitable arrangement. These sorts of conversations should extend beyond your first days back and look to achieve regular adjustments aimed towards you getting back up to full speed at a pace you feel mentally comfortable with, as well as helping you with how to deal with stress at work.
Consider a phased return
One thing you may well agree on is a phased return.
What is a phased return to work?
A phased return is an arrangement whereby you would return to your full duties and hours gradually over a defined period of time. This can mean only working certain days, hours or to a reduced workload, while your employer may also permit time for you to attend rehabilitation programmes or medical visits.
How long should a phased return to work be?
This should be agreed by you and your employer based on medical recommendations. Typically, a phased return can last four weeks or longer, but the priority is finding an arrangement that suits you. When discussing a phased return, only agree to one that you feel mentally capable to stick to.
Get the right benefits
One of the bigger stresses that comes from being out of work is concern around money. While out of work, you may only be entitled to statutory sick pay (SSP) but check with your employer to see if they offer any additional pay to support you. On top of that, consider looking into Access to Work grants, which can help cover costs for practical support in the work place.
Of course, if the accident you were involved in wasn't your fault, either at work or otherwise, you may be looking into making a claim. If you aren't sure how personal injury claims work, you can contact us to find out more. Getting compensation will reduce any money worries you have, helping you maintain a healthy headspace during and after recovery.
Know your rights
If you're making a claim against your workplace, you may well be apprehensive about returning to work, which could be causing you undue stress and anxiety. Reassure yourself that you should be treated no differently or penalised for this, and that you are protected from unfair or constructive dismissal by law. If you need any help or support, don't hesitate to give our friendly team a call on .