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Returning to Work After an Accident or Injury

By: Jeff Durham - Updated: 28 Sep 2018 | comments*Discuss
 
Returning To Work Accident Injury Work

If you are returning to work after a long lay-off due to an accident or injury you have suffered it can be a daunting experience. Your confidence may have taken a knock which might lead you to start worrying about whether or not you can still do the job, if your desk or space might now be occupied by somebody else, whether or not your old work colleagues will still be there or if there are new faces on the team.

However, a good boss will have usually be in touch from time to time whilst you’ve been recuperating and this will have enabled you to find out what’s been going on, any changes there might have been and just allows you to stay in touch so that most, if not all, of your fears will be allayed.

Once You Return to Work

Once you’re fit enough to go back to work, you’ll usually be asked to attend a meeting with your employer or supervisor. This need not be formal and shouldn’t cause you to panic. These meetings are standard procedure and are designed to welcome you back, to find out how you’re feeling and to discuss any health related issues you might still have and whether or not you require any workplace adjustments to be made e.g. if you’re experiencing physical mobility difficulties or have become Disabled. However, if your accident or injury has resulted in severe mobility problems, your employer will probably have known about this in advance and the necessary adjustments will have been made before your return in order to make the return less stressful for you.

Other Adjustments that Should be Considered

Most employers understand the importance of retaining the skills, personal qualities and experience of their workforce so they will want to do everything they can to make your return to work run as smoothly as possible.

As well as adjusting aspects of the environment to aid you with your mobility, it may well be that you have other issues of concern which they can also assist you with. This can include allowing you a phased return to work. Instead of working full-time, perhaps you might be able to come back one or two days a week for a few weeks to let you get settled back into your routine without being under too much pressure.

Your workload could be made lighter also. Your employer will also structure your Working Hours so that you can attend any rehabilitation programs you may be attending at hospital or elsewhere and many employers will also have an Occupational Therapist who can also offer you advice and assistance.

Other Issues

The most important thing is that you have a good dialogue with your supervisor or employer. It’s only by understanding the exact state of your health upon your return to work that they can do all they possibly can to help you so you need to feel able to talk quite openly with them about any physical or psychological problems you may be experiencing. They will not be expecting you to come back raring to go like Superman!

It may take some time before you feel you’re able to perform your role as you used to. In some instances, a disability may prevent you from doing exactly the same job as you were previously so, if you’re open to the idea, a good employer will often try to find a role which you can cope with and which suits you personally.

There is no time limit set on recovering from an accident or injury. Medication and ongoing rehabilitation treatment can affect stamina levels and induce mood swings and your employer should be made aware of that in order to give you as much time as possible to return to full-health.

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I was involved in an accident at work last year, not my fault. Due to a back injury I was off work for 3 months and on gradual return to work for 3 months. The EXACT same accident happened again yesterday, with the EXACT same colleague who injured me last time. I am currently off work. I dont know what to do, where I stand, or anything.
MrsR - 28-Sep-18 @ 7:10 PM
Hi, I dislocated my left elbow at work, i had no induction upon my first day or any manual lifting training. After 3 weeks in plaster my doctor said he was happy for me to return to work on light duties whilst I'm having physio for 6 weeks, I took my fit note to my boss and explained etc, the next day he rang to say, sorry we don't have any light duties so I suggest you look for another job .......then 24 hours later he called back to say that if I hand my notice in he would pay me two months money. I'm signed off again another 8 weeks, it will be 5 months off when that runs out.
Tris - 26-Sep-18 @ 2:39 PM
What does the law say about health surveillance
Nya - 29-May-18 @ 1:50 PM
Hello, my mom fractured her arm on mothers day when she accidentally fell on a sidewalk (not work-related) and she presented a doctor's note at work saying she can return to work once the orthopedic clears her (because she has spurs on her feet from a previous incident and I think the accident aggravated it). At the hospital she was adviced to request MediCal coverage first. She's trying. Within a week of the accident her employer indirectly threatened that my mom could lose her job if she doesn't return soon because she doesn't even have an estimated day to return to work. Can she sue? What are the legal procedures in this case?
Prq - 24-May-18 @ 3:40 AM
JJ - Your Question:
Following 20 years service and after being dismissed on the 22nd of March this year. I was released on ill health capability ground's after a Works accident in October 2016 left me disabled physically and mentally I was unable too continue in my employment.unite union have not helped me afterwards by taking my ex employer too tribunal and will not return my calls.too be fair they have granted me a accident solicitor who is dealing with my accident claim and im very greatful for this indeed.But I went through a total nightmare and vile treatment over the last 18 months of my employment.my ex employer put me through hell it was vile and disgusting.So my wife took me too the CAB we see the employment specialist after 3 hours with him he seems too think I have a very strong case for disability discrimination he advised me not too contest my dismissal as in his eyes he thinks they just about dismissed me fairly.but strangely after he went through all of my paper work he was shocked my ex employer done too me throughout.he could not believe what they had done too me when I tried too return from the accident.i only lasted 3 months part time he said he was amazed I lasted that long after the initial accident kept me off 5 months.he is 100% confident of a disability discrimination and victimisation case.I would just like too ask you why unite are not helping me with my situation ?But the CAB employment specialist are helping I don't understand why my union are doing nothing. I can't get the Union too reply for there reasons as too why.thank you for all your advice as always JJ

Our Response:
We can't really say why the union has not supported you in the way you would expect. There are some things that you can complain about to the Certification officer but we don't think poor representation is on of them unfortunately.
SafeWorkers - 13-Apr-18 @ 11:06 AM
Following 20 years service and after being dismissed on the 22nd of March this year. I was released on ill health capability ground's after a Works accident in October 2016 left me disabled physically and mentally i was unable too continue in my employment.unite union have not helped me afterwards by taking my ex employer too tribunal and will not return my calls.too be fair they have granted me a accident solicitor who is dealing with my accident claim and im very greatful for this indeed.But I went through a total nightmare and vile treatment over the last 18 months of my employment.my ex employer put me through hell it was vile and disgusting.So my wife took me too the CAB we see the employment specialist after 3 hours with him he seems too think I have a very strong case for disability discrimination he advised me not too contest my dismissal as in his eyes he thinks they just about dismissed me fairly.but strangely after he went through all of my paper work he was shocked my ex employer done too me throughout.he could not believe what they had done too me when i tried too return from the accident.i only lasted 3 months part time he said he was amazed i lasted that long after the initial accident kept me off 5 months.he is 100% confident of a disability discrimination and victimisation case.I would just like too ask you why unite are not helping me with my situation ?.But the CAB employment specialist are helping i don't understand why my union are doing nothing. i can't get the Union too reply for there reasons as too why.thank you for all your advice as always JJ
JJ - 11-Apr-18 @ 4:59 PM
CC - Your Question:
Hi a car crashes into 3rd party accepted liability I suffered back problems other complications. I was off work for 5 months returned to 3 months I was dismissed because of my sickness and now receiving no work payment. Who is liable for this my insurance or the 3rd party insurance. I don’t feel I should be dismissed from accident not my fault and now have financial commitment I can’t keep up. Any advice you can offer

Our Response:
The fact you've had to give up work may not be covered by insurance as it's a wider compensation claim. You may need to speak to an injury compensation lawyer.
SafeWorkers - 11-Apr-18 @ 2:59 PM
Hi a car crashes into 3rd party accepted liability I suffered back problems other complications. I was off work for 5 months returned to 3 months I was dismissed because of my sickness and now receiving no work payment. Who is liable for this my insurance or the 3rd party insurance. I don’t feel I should be dismissed from accident not my fault and now have financial commitment I can’t keep up.Any advice you can offer
CC - 11-Apr-18 @ 8:25 AM
Thank you for all your advice my injury solicitor has asked for my final pay slips.the employment solicitor rung told me she spoke too the unite union representative he informed her it's unlikely I have a tribunal case.but she is looking at least.I've suffered some much over the last 2 years I just want too rest.I've lost everything because of the Works accident i also spoke too my pension provider they said I'm too young for ill health pension but said the would pay back what ive payed in with no penalty.again many thanks for all your help jj
jj - 30-Mar-18 @ 6:20 AM
jj - Your Question:
Hello there just an update on my situation if you remember I posted too you after my complete nightmare of a situation because of my works accident after 20 years employment with an unblemished work history with never one warning on my records.I am now dismissed on capability ill health grounds after 3 letters in 4 days the HR manager come too my home for all of 20 minutes and dismissed me in my frontroom with union representative present.I'm being paid my lieu of notice 12 weeks plus 11 days holiday outstanding and 4 weeks pay as a Goodwill gesture for long service.I'm left distraught devastated and on the Scrapheap. So the works accident left me disabled both mentally and physically and now I'm unemployed that's all I have to show for my for my loyalty over 20 years. My employer never asked for occupational health to do an assessment I feel they failed in their duty of care towards me.and discriminated against me because I'm left disabled after my accident at there hands.the hr manager dismissed me at my home she said there was no reasonable adjustments that could be made nor could I be redeployed anywhere else in the company.so unfortunately I have to tell you Jason you are now dismissed immediately that was last Thursday.they said I could appeal to the managing director the hr manager also stated that if I was ever fit for work they could maybe take me back cannot believe how company can treat an employee like they have throughout my last 18 months of hell because of them thanks for the memories

Our Response:
Have you talked to an workplace injuries lawyer about this? It might be worth getting an opinion on whether you have a valid claim for more compensation at least.
SafeWorkers - 28-Mar-18 @ 2:12 PM
Hello there just an update on my situation if you remember i posted too you after my complete nightmare of a situation because of my works accident after 20 years employment with an unblemished work history with never one warning on my records.I am now dismissed on capability ill health groundsafter 3 letters in 4 days the HR manager come too my home for all of 20 minutes and dismissed me in my frontroom with union representative present.I'm being paid my lieu of notice 12 weeks plus 11 days holiday outstanding and 4 weeks pay as a Goodwill gesture for long service.I'm left distraught devastated and on the Scrapheap. So the works accidentleft me disabled both mentally and physically and now I'm unemployed that's all I have to show for my for my loyalty over 20 years. My employer never asked for occupational health to do an assessment I feel they failed in their duty of care towards me.and discriminated against me because I'm left disabled after my accident at there hands.the hr manager dismissed me at my home she said there was no reasonable adjustments that could be made nor could I be redeployed anywhere else in the company.so unfortunately I have to tell you Jason you are now dismissed immediately that was last Thursday.they said I could appeal to the managing director the hr manager also stated that if I was ever fit for work they could maybe take me back cannot believe how company can treat an employee like they have throughout my last 18 months of hell because of them thanks for the memories
jj - 26-Mar-18 @ 8:35 PM
Cr - Your Question:
Hi I was in a car accident in Oct 17 and injured my back Iam a home carer and was off work till Feb 18 I have seen occupation health at work who says I have to be on light duties and can't drive works van. My employer has now gave me 3 weeks to be fully fit for work or I am getting "let go" scaked as they say I'm not fit for the job I was employed to do. Can they do that

Our Response:
If there is no other work available and you are unable to do your own job, the employer can dismiss you as long as the correct procedures are followed.
SafeWorkers - 14-Mar-18 @ 1:55 PM
Hi I was in a car accident in Oct 17 and injured my back Iam a home carer and was off work till Feb 18 I have seen occupation health at work who says I have to be on light duties and can't drive works van. My employer has now gave me 3 weeks to be fully fit for work or I am getting "let go" scaked as they say I'm not fit for the job I was employed to do. Can they do that
Cr - 12-Mar-18 @ 10:34 AM
Thank you for your reply I've taken your advice and sent an email too unite union I'm waiting for there reply for help. yes the process of my work caused my accident the union solicitors say my case is difficult because my employer denied liability the solicitor has said they are still working on my case and ask for more information and we have now sent that too them so i don't know what will happen.but thanks again im very grateful for your help jj
jj - 9-Feb-18 @ 4:18 PM
JJ - Your Question:
After 20 years employed in a heavy manual production job I suffered a works accident leaving me with injuries too my lower spine and leaving me with other issues also because of it.after tripping over airlines over the floor with a 3 meter ladder of 23kg in my hands in October 2016 with left me disabled and with ptsd depression anxiety unable too leave my house.unite union solicitors say my employer has denied liability.works insurance have sent me everywhere spinal specialist psychiatrist counciling but only too gain information no actual medical help.my employer did not like the findings they got back. it's been a living nightmare and how I've suffered with no help I tried returning too work March 2017 they put me part time on a machine where I was bending down 4 hours a day after 3 months I broke down completely in agony no sleep not eating ive not worked since.my sick pay has now stopped I receive pip and industrial injuries benefit I got sent a letter from my employer asking for a meeting and the best way forward in know what they mean by that the have been vile too me.ive not been able too rest one day through this I even considered ending it all.I how have nhs support for my mental health and pain management on the nhs witch im waiting for it also havery help from one support and an OT. I go in too hospital later this month for injctions up my spine for pain relief but they say that's all they can do for me.I'm 42 worked since I was 16 and feel like everything is over.the strong medications I'm on are making me like a zombie the nightmare and struggles of life day too day goes on only family keep me going.Could you email any advice for me

Our Response:
It might be worth seeking legal advice about this - if the initial accident was because of your job...did you receive compensation? Your union doesn't sound like it's been very helpful, you should go back and ask them to do more.
SafeWorkers - 9-Feb-18 @ 10:43 AM
After 20 years employed in a heavy manualproduction job i suffered a works accident leaving me with injuries too my lower spine and leaving me with other issues also because of it.after tripping over airlines over the floor with a 3 meter ladder of 23kg in my hands in October 2016 with left me disabled and with ptsd depression anxiety unable too leave my house.unite union solicitors say my employer has denied liability.works insurance have sent me everywhere spinal specialist psychiatrist counciling but only too gain information no actual medical help.my employer did not like the findings they got back. it's been a living nightmare and how I've suffered with no help i tried returning too work March 2017 they put me part time on a machine where I was bending down 4 hours a day after 3 months I broke down completely in agony no sleep not eating ive not worked since.my sick pay has now stopped I receive pip and industrial injuries benefit I got sent a letter from my employer asking for a meeting and the best way forward in know what they mean by that the have been vile too me.ive not been able too rest one day through this i even considered ending it all.I how have nhs support for my mental health and pain management on the nhs witch im waiting for it also havery help from one support and an OT. i go in too hospital later this month for injctions up my spine for pain relief but they say that's all they can do for me.I'm 42 worked since i was 16 and feel like everything is over.the strong medications I'm on are making me like a zombie the nightmare and struggles of life day too day goes on only family keep me going. Could you email any advice for me
JJ - 8-Feb-18 @ 11:21 AM
Craig - Your Question:
I returned to work in the New Year after 6 months off due to a fall into a Manhole at work which resulted in me hurting my back. My manager stated to me in my 'Return to Work' interview that I can not drive my Telescopic Handler as and I quote "As you have had 6 months off you need to be retrained on the mobile plant but before I do that you need to show me some loyalty". Can my manager legally do this, as I feel I'm being forced out my job?

Our Response:
What kind of "loyalty" - sorry you've not given enough information about the source of your injury and what your manager means by the term loyalty.
SafeWorkers - 30-Jan-18 @ 11:34 AM
I returned to work in the New Year after 6 months off due to a fall into a Manhole at work which resulted in me hurting my back. My manager stated to me in my 'Return to Work' interview that I can not drive my Telescopic Handler as and I quote "As you have had 6 months off you need to be retrained on the mobile plant but before I do that you need to show me some loyalty". Can my manager legally do this, as I feel I'm being forced out my job?
Craig - 28-Jan-18 @ 6:04 PM
Mart - Your Question:
I have broken my neck at work September 22 2016 I have tried to return to work but in so much pain had to go off work again work have now asked me for concent for a medical report if the doctor says I'm not going to be able to return what are my rights

Our Response:
Sorry not sure what your question is. Do you not want your employer to have more detail about your medical problems?
SafeWorkers - 18-Sep-17 @ 1:47 PM
I have broken my neck at work September 22 2016 I have tried to return to work but in so much pain had to go off work again work have now asked me for concent for a medical report if the doctor says I'm not going to be able to return what are my rights
Mart - 16-Sep-17 @ 12:56 PM
william - Your Question:
Hi, I recently injured myself at work I do not feel I am ready to return to work but today I was contacted through a friend who'd be asked to phone me from a high position manager requesting I return to work as if I don't I would of had enough time off to warrant an investigation by the HSE, I feel this is to benefit them and not me, where do I stand?

Our Response:
What does your doctor/consultant say? You need to follow medical advice on this.
SafeWorkers - 24-May-17 @ 12:11 PM
Hi, i recently injured myself at work i do not feel i am ready to return to work but today i was contacted through a friend who'd be asked to phone me from a high position manager requesting i return to work as if i don't i would of had enough time off to warrant an investigation by the HSE, i feel this is to benefit them and not me, where do i stand?
william - 23-May-17 @ 2:50 PM
Jay77 - Your Question:
I broke my ankle few months back. I got a doctors note saying I'm clear to go back to work at 100% but my employer won't let me go back to work. And now he tell me that my note need his medical license number and practicing state is that true or is he trying to not let me back to work

Our Response:
Sorry but we can only answer questions relating to UK employment law as we're not familiar with those of other countries.
SafeWorkers - 18-May-17 @ 11:15 AM
I broke my anklefew months back. I got a doctorsnote saying I'm clear to go back to work at 100% but my employerwon't let me go back to work. And now he tell me that my note need his medicallicense number and practicing state is that true or is he tryingto not let me back to work
Jay77 - 17-May-17 @ 5:38 AM
Hi There Im looking for some advice i currently work on the railway and had a injury at xmas time where i cut my leg open with a petrol hedge cutter causing me to have to go to hospital and receive stitches now my leg is left with numbness, at the time of the accident i did not have the ticket to be able to use the hedge strimmer but the employer forced us into using them and if we didnt we wouldnt have a job after having to take some time off to go for a hospital appointment this week i have been dropped down to 1 shift per week could you advise me on where i stand with this?
Craigyboy94 - 11-Feb-17 @ 9:13 PM
Hello 2 months ago I had to have surgery on my left foot for an ulcer that got infected and I returned back to work on crutches my employer keeps asking me continually how much longer am I going to be on those things meaning the crutches is he allowed to do that can he make me feel pressured and that is the way I have been feeling every time he keeps asking because I actually got tired of him asking and that off my crutches put on my shoes went back to work and caused more injury to my foot now I am back on my crutches and yesterday being the 27th of December he asked me how much longer on those things my question is is he allowed to do that because I'm feeling seriously stressed and pressured because of that?
FootpainS/O - 28-Dec-16 @ 7:58 AM
Mac1979 - Your Question:
Hi. I broke my wrist and have a Drs note stating I can't drive. My job does involve some driving to appointments. My boss will not let me return to work (where I am able to complete most of my daily tasks) until I am able to drive and fulfil all of my duties. Where do I stand? as I'm sure he will not pay me. Any advice or help would be really appreciated.

Our Response:
We can't find anything that suggests your employer HAS to accept you back to work if you cannot do your normal job. The government advice surrounding fit notes, does state; "If your employer cannot make any changes, they do not have to. In these circumstances, you should treat your fit note as if it said that you are not fit for work and use it as explained above. You should not go back to your doctor for a new fit note."
SafeWorkers - 23-Sep-16 @ 12:55 PM
Hi. I broke my wrist and have a Drs note stating I can't drive. My job does involve some driving to appointments. My boss will not let me return to work (where I am able to complete most of my daily tasks) until I am able to drive and fulfil all of my duties. Where do I stand? as I'm sure he will not pay me. Any advice or help would be really appreciated.
Mac1979 - 21-Sep-16 @ 11:21 AM
Hi. I had road traffic accident. I went back to work but I have hand teraphy 1 time a week since then. And everytime I go to the therapist I have it discounted from my holidays. Is it legal? How does it work ? Thank you!
Andy - 2-Sep-16 @ 12:23 AM
Hello, Im returning to work tomorrow after being injured at work. They hve ignored me via email when asking for time off for a hospital appointment (nothing to do with injury) on thursday. I emailed a week ago and rang a few days ago to be told they will email me to see if i can have the time off. nothing has been recieved by them. Can i now demand the time off as its too late to rearange my appointment? Thanks
benji1666 - 30-Aug-16 @ 5:28 PM
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