Why is it important to address return-to-work?


4: Return to work

Why is it important to address return-to-work?

Legal obligations

In light of the ageing of the workforce, is an increasingly important topic as long-standing health problems and disabilities become more common with age. Employers will benefit from supporting people to return to work as quickly as advisable after an injury or illness, and helping workers with chronic health conditions to remain in work. In some cases, this might involve workplace adaptations on a temporary or long term basis, or re-training for other tasks.

In the UK for those returning to work after more than seven days absence, a fit note can be obtained for individuals if their health affects their ability to work.  This can help identify work tasks that can be completed at work.  For those individuals who are absent for 4 weeks or more, referral can be made to the Fit for Work Service in England and Wales or Scotland. 

The provision of measures to accommodate the needs of disabled people at the workplace plays an important role in combating discrimination on grounds of . Employers are legally obliged to treat people equally in employment and occupation, including adapting the workplace to the , for example adapting premises and equipment, patterns of working time, the distribution of tasks, or the provision of training or integration resources.

Benefits of promoting

The longer the duration of the sickness absence, the more barriers workers experience in returning to work, and the lower the likelihood of a successful and lasting reintegration.

Ensuring a smooth has various benefits for workplaces:

  • Retaining the skills and knowledge of the sick/injured worker;
  • Loss of productivity is kept to a minimum;
  • Reduction of costs of recruitment and training of new workers; and
  • Maintaining the morale in the workplace.

How to ensure a successful return-to-work? (next section)