4: Return to work

Return to work

How can work help me recover?

Work can support recovery 

If you are recovering from a health problem or injury, you can benefit from returning to work as soon as physically and safely possible. Work can be therapeutic and it can support you in your recovery. Moreover, the longer you are out of work, the harder it is to go back, both physically and mentally, and the higher your chances of developing a long-term incapacity.

Return-to-work process

A ‘return-to-work programme’ is a process that puts into practice the concept that meaningful and safe work is part of the recovery process. It involves several actors and you play a key role in it.

The primary goal of a return-to-work programme is to help you return to your original job. However, to take up the same tasks and responsibilities during the recovery period is not always possible. Your employer might therefore need to make reasonable adjustments to your workplace or working conditions to help you stay in work. These adjustments might be:

  • Work station adaptations;
  • Technical aids;
  • Phased return-to-work (e.g. working flexible hours or part-time);
  • Time off for medical treatment or counselling; 
  • Task redistribution (e.g. allocating to another worker some tasks that can no longer be done easily by you); and
  • Job redesign.

What is my role in the return-to-work process? (next section)