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Returning to Work After an Accident or Injury

By: Jeff Durham - Updated: 16 Sep 2017 | 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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[Add a Comment]
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
I've just got back from occupational health therapy for 2 months my annual leave is due soon can they hold it back? They also pay out the annual shifts you worked for the year I live in south Africa
james - 17-Aug-16 @ 9:56 PM
Zarabee28 - Your Question:
Hi, I think I need some advice. Last November I had a bad car crash, my left knee was smashed to bits, I broke my tibia & fibia & seriously damaged nerves in that leg. My right leg wasn't broken, but I ripped a tendon in my knee which causes horrendous pain when I try to bend my knee. It took the fire service 2 hours to cut me out of the car. My baby son was also in the car with me & broke his femur in the crash (thankfully fully recovered!!!) We were both hospitalised for 3 weeks, my son was in traction the entire time & I had 4 surgeries to try & reconstruct my knee & repair damage. I was in a wheelchair for about a month & my son was in a full body cast over Christmas (awful!) I have since been diagnosed with PTSD & am seeing a psychologist. My job is a nursing assistant & before the crash I was doing 13-14hr days/nights. Although I am currently undergoing intensive physio therapy (NHS & private) I am still unable to crouch or kneel, my 'bad' leg often swells & despite the colourful cocktail of analgesia I'm on, the nerve pain is horrific!!! I obviously won't be able to go back to those shifts, due to the type of job, I think I would struggle even doing a 8 hour shift on my feet! I have asked HR & my boss if I could do a more computer based job, so I could be mainly seated, but she said she hasn't got a role like that to give me. My boss & a HR representative are coming to my house again tomorrow 'to offer support' but I received a rather snippy letter from HR pushing this meeting because my doctor has signed me off until September. I feel concerned by their attitude, what are my rights? Can I demand a office job? Thank you for reading Zara

Our Response:
Gosh you have been through a lot in the past 10 months! Your employer should try and make allowances but if there are no lighter jobs available then of course they are not in a position to help you. It is not your employer's fault that you had the accident of course. Have you filed a compensation claim from the other party in the accident? Do you have any insurance that will cover loss of earnings etc? It may be that you need to seek legal advice if you can no longer do the job you used to do as a result of the accident.
SafeWorkers - 11-Aug-16 @ 2:07 PM
Hi, I think I need some advice. Last November I had a bad car crash, my left knee was smashed to bits, I broke my tibia & fibia & seriously damaged nerves in that leg. My right leg wasn't broken, but I ripped a tendon in my knee which causes horrendous pain when I try to bend my knee. It took the fire service 2 hours to cut me out of the car. My baby son was also in the car with me & broke his femur in the crash (thankfully fully recovered!!!) We were both hospitalised for 3 weeks, my son was in traction the entire time & I had 4 surgeries to try & reconstruct my knee & repair damage. I was in a wheelchair for about a month & my son was in a full body cast over Christmas (awful!) I have since been diagnosed with PTSD & am seeing a psychologist. My job is a nursing assistant & before the crash I was doing 13-14hr days/nights. Although I am currently undergoing intensive physio therapy (NHS & private) I am still unable to crouch or kneel, my 'bad' leg often swells & despite the colourful cocktail of analgesia I'm on, the nerve pain is horrific!!! I obviously won't be able to go back to those shifts, due to the type of job, I think I would struggle even doing a 8 hour shift on my feet! I have asked HR & my boss if I could do a more computer based job, so I could be mainly seated, but she said she hasn't got a role like that to give me. My boss & a HR representative are coming to my house again tomorrow 'to offer support' but I received a rather snippy letter from HR pushing this meeting because my doctor has signed me off until September. I feel concerned by their attitude, what are my rights? Can I demand a office job? Thank you for reading Zara
Zarabee28 - 10-Aug-16 @ 3:08 AM
PurpleSanta - Your Question:
Hi ThereLooking for some help or advise please. My other half was diagnosed with plantar fasciitis when she was already a month into the pain and torture of it. By that time the damage was too severe for her to walk at all. She still went into work 5 days a week with one day a week of physio to assist with the plantar. I eventually had to go to her HR and tell them she is unfit to be in the office for now - they agreed to her working from home 5 days a week until the physio agreed she could return. Fast forward a year later and her physio reduced and she was on the mend, being able to walk without crutches etc.Her boss called her in a meeting and said she has to be back in now for 4 full days a week, since then, she has now relapsed and is back to square one with using crutches and having to do physio weekly to ease the pain. My question is, does the company have to allow her to work from home again, maybe 1 day a week in the office? (we are in Telecomms so its very possible) and she only has a desked based job, (developer) so there is no meetings with clients etc. Or does the company have every right to demand her in 4 days, even with her suffering?Any help would be appreciated.

Our Response:
Your employer does not have to give the option to work from home - it really depends on their policy and what is right for the business at the time. All employees can request flexible working (including working from home) but an employer can refuse this request if it is not the right decision for the business.
SafeWorkers - 15-Feb-16 @ 12:23 PM
I had an injury at work and now cannot return to my work they are terminating my contract is that fair?
hrh - 12-Feb-16 @ 7:09 PM
Hi There Looking for some help or advise please. My other half was diagnosed with plantar fasciitis when she was already a month into the pain and torture of it. By that time the damage was too severe for her to walk at all. She still went into work 5 days a week with one day a week of physio to assist with the plantar. I eventually had to go to her HR and tell them she is unfit to be in the office for now - they agreed to her working from home 5 days a week until the physio agreed she could return. Fast forward a year later and her physio reduced and she was on the mend, being able to walk without crutches etc.. Her boss called her in a meeting and said she has to be back in now for 4 full days a week,since then, she has now relapsed and is back to square one with using crutches and having to do physio weekly to ease the pain. My question is, does the company have to allow her to work from home again, maybe 1 day a week in the office? (we are in Telecomms so its very possible) and she only has a desked based job, (developer) so there is no meetings with clients etc. Or does the company have every right to demand her in 4 days, even with her suffering? Any help would be appreciated.
PurpleSanta - 12-Feb-16 @ 11:28 AM
@ninamorris169. Keep trying to maintain contact to keep the momentum up. If possible try and speak with someone else in HR if this person is unavailable.
SafeWorkers - 16-Mar-15 @ 2:24 PM
Hello, I have a story to share about trying to get back into work after depression. The backstory is that I worked for local government, in an apprenticeship, in the Human Resources department, which I really loved and made me want to apply to do an Advanced Apprenticeship with the same organisation in a different department. Fast forward to working at the Tourist Information Centre, and it really got me down. The physical symptoms of depression were all there: headaches, stomach cramps, and nausea, as well as a general feeling of hopelessness, that I couldn't hack it any more, that suicide or resignation were the only way out because I didn't enjoy any of the tasks: I am a generalist whilst the tasks were too specialist as the TIC was like a shop with an office tacked on the side. Since voicing my concerns, I was granted the rest of the week off on annual leave, then I was moved onto management leave so that all my annual leave wasn't used up. I have since been off for a month and have done everything that my employer has asked of me, from starting to go to a youth club to attending appointments with my GP and Occupational Health to get anti-anxiety medication, talking therapy and a report sorted out. I have received the Occupational Health report, and have contacted the Human Resources manager (he deals with Occupational Health referrals and also knows me well from having worked with him for a year) via email about whether he has received the Occupational Health report, and have also attempted to get hold of him by phone three times. It is really frustrating waiting for a response to my emails or for him to call back, as I know that wheels can be gotten moving now I have received the report and surely he has as well, because I was told that my employer would receive the report at the same time as me? Should I keep persisting (but I don't want to do this to the point of being a pain) or leave it for a little while? Also, although I know that I have done everything that has been asked of me, my employer doesn't know about everything (for example the HR Manager doesn't know about me being on medication now).
ninamorris169 - 13-Mar-15 @ 10:22 AM
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