• Leah Norman

Returning to work after injury

How to support your employees in their return to the workplace following an injury


Some of you may be aware that I have started off 2020 with a broken bone or two, so I thought it was the perfect opportunity to touch on how employers can best manage and support an employee's return to the workplace following an injury.


While no two situations are ever the same, from my experience, I believe that a supportive return to work as soon as possible after an injury can often mean a quicker and simpler recovery, and importantly, a return to productivity. The sooner an employee can come back to work the better. Even if they just start off part-time or help out with smaller jobs. It’s proven to help their physical and mental recovery when they’re active.


Medical Certificates... ‘Fully unfit for work’

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 may be available within the workplace. Depending on the injury and type of job, it may be sensible to work with the employee, their Occupational Therapist or other medical professional to gradually build up hours at work and/or by gradually increasing the amount of physical work your employee is doing. Their brain and body may need time to re-adapt to working and re-build their pre-injury levels of working fitness.


This usually means returning to work before the employee is 100% fit, with, where possible, a focus on light or alternate duties that won't compromise their recovery. In many situations employees may have the capacity to do some aspects of their job while injured and the psychological, social and physical benefits of being at work can far outweigh the alternative option of them sitting at home waiting to recover.


In many cases a new medical certificate may be issued to support the employee recover at work.


Yellow's Top Tips;

  • Maintain contact with your injured employee while they are off work. If practicable, encourage your employee to come into work when they are able to help them maintain connections with work and colleagues; this could be for a lunch or afternoon tea. Don't underestimate the power of those social connections - recovering at home can be isolating.

  • Respond and react positively if/when your employee expresses their wanting to return to work as quickly as possible.

  • Be open-minded and willing to consider various options to assist your employee to return to work. This may include flexible options such as alternative light duties or reduced hours.

  • Remember that not all employee return to work processes go according to plan. Be open to modifying the plan and providing alternative options, if required.

  • Listen to your employee. They know their limitations and how they are feeling better than anyone else.

Disclaimer

This article, and any information contained on our website is necessarily brief and general in nature, and should not be substituted for professional advice. You should always seek professional advice before taking any action in relation to the matters addressed.