Returning to work

When you feel ready to return to work, and your doctor agrees you can go back, let your employer know. Ask them to arrange a pre-return to work meeting where you can discuss your return and, if necessary, plan a phased return to work for you. Your employer should also discuss reasonable adjustments that can be made to help with your return to work.

Practical matters

Your employer may have asked for your consent to obtain a medical report from your GP or consultant. This will provide them with more information about your illness, and guidance on when you are likely to be able to return to work and any adjustments they could make to facilitate your return.

By agreeing to such a report being provided, it will really help your employer to do the best they can for you. You can ask for a copy of the report if you wish. You can always let your employer know if you only want certain people to have access to the report

If they have one, your employer may seek advice from their occupational health service about your ability to return to work. They may do this as well as, or instead of, asking for a medical report. If they do, you may be required to see an occupational health adviser, which is a good opportunity for you to discuss any adjustments you think would help you return to work.

'The therapy affected my home life, but actually work was like an escape from it – I could just carry on as normal and everyone thought I was wonderful!'

Working hours and time off for treatment

If you're still having treatment and need time off from work for appointments, you'll need to agree a way for you to manage this with your employer.

Before your pre-return to work meeting, it might be helpful for you or your manager to prepare a suggested timetable for your phased return to work. This can then form the basis of the discussion at the meeting.

Some employers may be happy for you not to work on treatment days, and may simply agree to reduce your wages according to the number of days you take off.

Other employers may be happy for you to make up the time on the days when you feel better, or allow you to work from home. Make sure you fully understand your organisation's sickness policy.

Choosing a representative

You might feel it would be helpful if someone accompanied you when you met with your employer. If so, discuss it with them. You could suggest:

  • A union representative if you are a member of a union
  • Someone from your Human Resources (HR) department
  • A colleague you trust

This can be useful as you can run through what was said with them after the meeting. There will probably have been a lot to take in, and they might have picked up on some points you missed.

Take notes

Someone should take notes of what's agreed at the meeting, type them up and circulate them afterwards. This ensures everyone is expecting the same things to happen and knows what their individual commitment is.

Any changes to your contract should ideally be agreed in writing with you. This could include a change to your working hours, either temporary or permanent.

Updated January 2017, next review due December 2017.