Being off work is known to have a harmful effect on your health and wellbeing. With the support of Fit for Work, your GP and/or employer, it may be possible for you to return to work in some capacity, even before you have fully recovered from illness or injury. By looking after yourself, being open with your employer and understanding what processes are in place if you ever need them, you should be able to successfully return to work, when appropriate.
Even though your employer should take every care to look after your health and safety at work, you should also consider what you can do to look after yourself at work and return quickly, and safely, after injury or ill health.
The role of occupational health
If you’re experiencing ill health, nursing an injury or struggling with difficulties at home, your employer’s occupational health provider can support you. Not all employers provide, or have access to, occupational health services and must rely on information from your GP to help you to get back to, or remain, in work. In addition, work-related health information can be accessed via the Fit for Work website.
Talking to your employer about your health
Talking openly to your employer about your health, or any other problems you are struggling to deal with, is difficult but essential to getting you the support you need to remain in work. For many, worries over redundancy or forced ill health retirement prevent them from being open with their employer. However, it is against the law for you to lose your job because of chronic illness or a need for regular treatment.
Know your sickness policy
How your organisation manages sickness is important for every employee to know and understand. Having a sickness policy in place can be reassuring. Knowing there are procedures in place to look after you can help to remove some of the stress and uncertainty associated with sickness absence.
Health and safety at work
Looking after your own health and safety at work can help to reduce the risk of work-related illness and injury. Your employer will have developed a health and safety policy and guidelines to help with this, but it is your responsibility to look after your own health and understand the hazards in your workplace.
Benefits of working
Working, whether paid or unpaid, is good for our health and wellbeing. It contributes to our happiness, helps us to build confidence and self-esteem, and rewards us financially. Because of these benefits, it is important to return to work as soon as possible after an illness or injury.