Returning to Work After Long Term Sick Leave: All You Need to Know


Depending on how long you’ve been on sick leave, the thought of starting again could be overwhelming. When you’re poised to return to work, you are at a delicate crossroads in life. One path leads to success, income, self-esteem, and numerous other positive outcomes.

The other path heads in a downward direction and is harder to come back from. Thousands of people return to work from sickness every day, so you’re not destined to fail. In fact, everyone, most especially your employer, wants you to succeed.

Your journey to success begins with knowledge. In this article, we’re going to talk you through the process of returning to work, the expectations, and the important considerations. By the time you’ve finished reading this article, you will feel a lot better and ready to get started.

Return to Work Policy

What’s happened to you has happened to others, many times. For this reason, most companies and good businesses will have a ‘Return to Work’ policy that takes into account various legislation and employee rights. This is a formal document that has full corporate and managerial backing designed to provide information and support to everyone involved in the process.

This document should be a resource that you read and familiarize yourself with. It will outline the general process in your business and explain the tools, resources, and options open to you and your line manager. Reading the policy will help you see that you are supported by others.

Good Communication

This is the lifeblood of any relationship. After a period of absence, you’ll need to build your relationship with your employer or manager again. That of course, will take a little bit of time and trust.

Be open and honest with your employer and your immediate manager. Let them see that you genuinely want to return to work and are willing to work through the challenges.

Recognize that other people are also under pressure and vulnerable to stress, so try to keep your company’s return to work policy at the heart of the process.

Realistic Expectations After Sick Leave

In your enthusiasm to get back to work and perhaps also to prove you’re still a valuable employee, don’t take on more than you can realistically manage. Consider a phased approach to returning to work.

This can be flexible depending on what options your employer is able to offer. It could be returning to work a few days a week, working every day but for shorter shifts. Or, it may mean allocating you some of the lighter tasks for a while.

After recovering from sickness, the important thing is to identify what you can do and map your work to that, rather than just going on what you used to do before sick leave. Keep things open and flexible, as you may need to make some adjustments. Be willing to go through some vocational rehabilitation if needed.

Use Wellness Resources

Many companies offer additional resources that staff can use to help support their overall well-being. That could be counseling-based services for staff who are managing stress and large workloads, or retirement planning services for staff who are coming up to retirement.

Investigate what your company offers and use the services that are going to help you better manage your transition back to work. Having someone to talk to about the work itself, the pressures, and work relationships will help you retain a sense of control and perspective.

Getting Up To Speed

During your absence from work, it’s likely several things have changed. You’re going to need to give yourself some time to get back up to speed on company policies that have changed, role changes in the company, new developments in technology, and changes in your profession.

Try not to feel too overwhelmed by all of this. Once again, you need to be realistic and reasonable with yourself. Set yourself some goals that relate to getting up to date, and steadily work through them.

Depending on your job, your employer may factor some of this in and provide you with additional training and even refreshers where necessary. Go with the flow and try to enjoy the process.

Lifestyle Adjustments

Our work is a major part of our life. Work dictates so many other aspects of our life, such as our routines and even sleeping patterns. As you go back to work you’ll need to adjust to a new routine again.

Give your work the priority it needs, and make sure you get plenty of rest in your downtime. Even if you’re very positive about going back to work, don’t underestimate the emotional drain and the extra rest you’re going to need.

It’s normal to feel some degree of anxiety and experience difficulty sleeping. Make sure you adopt good sleeping habits such as getting to bed at a reasonable time and getting up at the same time each day.

Successful Return to Work

In this article, you’ve about returning to work after long-term sick leave. While it’s true returning to work can be challenging, there is every reason you will succeed especially if you keep in mind the advice in this article. Stress and anxiety about returning to work is your enemy and will make things harder for you than they need be.

The antidote to stress is adequate preparation. Empower yourself with knowledge and prepare yourself in harmony with the guidance you’ve read here. You can check out other informative articles and tips on our website.