Should the Employee Return to Normal Duties?

Q.Recently one of our employees fell over and struck his head while working as a machinist and was unconscious for a few minutes.

An ambulance was called and he was taken to hospital. It was reported under RIDDOR 95 and the appropriate accident report form filled out and signed.

The employee has returned to work having been away from work for three consecutive days. We are concerned as his employer if there is underlying health problems connected with this occurence that he may suffer the same occurence while working on the machines.

What is the procedure with regards to him returning to his normal duties given that he may have some underlying health problems?

(Mr John Colligan, 26 September 2008)

A.First of all, it is to be applauded that you are concerned about your employee’s welfare and that you are keen to ensure that he is fit enough to return to work so soon after his accident. You have also followed the correct procedure in the way you have gone about reporting the accident.

Unfortunately, accidents do occur in the workplace from time to time as you will be aware and a fall resulting in an employee falling unconscious is quite a serious one. However, it was simply that, an accident, so unless the fall was caused by some kind of negligence in terms of the company not taking correct safety precautions when it comes to slips, trips and falls and you have given no indication of that, then the chances are that it was simply a ‘one off’ accident that could not be helped.

In terms of your concerns however, there is no specific evidence mentioned in your question which would lead to the belief that the member of staff is not fit enough to return to work. He obviously feels fit enough to return or he wouldn’t have done so until he felt fit and able to do so and no doubt you have spoken to him since he came back and discussed his well-being with him.

However, in order to put your mind at rest with regards to not only your employee’s welfare but also about any possibility of any company liability issue arising down the track should he encounter any further health problems as a result of this incident, you may wish to have him examined if you employ an external Health Assessor. Alternatively, ask the employee to go and visit his GP. Here, he should explain the nature of the accident and what took place and he should tell the GP what his job entails. Then, it should be left to the GP to determine whether or not your employee is fit enough to return to work. From a liability perspective, you might also consider asking for a written letter from the GP to verify that he/she has given your employee a clean bill of health to return to work although there is likely to be a small charge for this which obviously, you should foot the bill for, given that you have requested the visit.

19 thoughts on “Should the Employee Return to Normal Duties?

  1. JLink says:

    I have been off work for over a year due to mental health ilness . Employer stopped paying salary/sick pay after 6 months . Went to medical assesment required by work to establish if can be receiving private sick pay . After assesment received reply that my claim was declined but can appeal . I did but prior obtain copy of report from medical assesor and realised that was totally missdiagnosed . After sending GP medical report and my note saying I was missdiagnosed they have reviewed it and said it has been declined again because I do not meet criteria . In note below it said ” to meet criteria employee has to be unable to work ” . I can’t work so far hence still on sick note . Can you please advise who do I need to get in touch with about complaining about it ? I was advised by work that as I dont meet criteria of private insurare ( AXA) I can’t complaint or do anything . My boss hasnt reply to my emails for over three weeks about discussing return to work . They disregarded medical recomendations of reasonable adjustment and overall they are not cooperating at all . I have no money except tiny benefit and can not do anything either . Can you please help me as my life in jeopardy 🙁 10 years of employment for one of the main finance corporations in UK and this is how they are treating me …

  2. LYNNIE says:

    Having worked for doctor’s office in the past where he supplied an executive chair and not a secretarial chair with adjustments at the front desk, I requested a secretarial chair accepting a four week assignment. The executive chair was not replaced accordingly and I had to prop up myself with a pillow underneath a plastic shield. The chair turned as I was trying to adjust myself and my knees went to the floor and my arms were my support after recently having carpal tunnel surgery. I told the physician the importance of the corrected chair but it was not a concern to him. I am now suffering with inner arm and knee pain and cannot kneel without pain. I worked for him part time and never going back. Is he responsible for his negligence?

  3. PaulB62 says:

    Hi i had a fall yesterday 9th august 2017 and twisted my leg resulting in a lot of pain,i was sent to the local hospital who agreed that there were no bones broken but injury to muscle at top of leg to which i was advised to take paracetamols every 3 hrs and ibuprofen every 4 hrs and to rest leg for a couple of days. But my employer is insisting i come in for light duties. where do i stand?

  4. sushi says:

    I had an achillis rupture outside of work, and went on the sick,after 1 month I kept on asking the employer if I could come back to work, with some adjustments etc, they said no due to health and safety. I am a chef /manager 20 hours office supervising, 20 hours cooking. 6 months later I am still not back. I have put in grievance about this. I have only been on SSP. I have lodged a complaint with the employment tribunial and I am awaiting there response. I am so stressed about this. I believe they should have let me back to work.. I feel now the trust and confidence is away, and they definetley do not want me back into the workplace. What can I do.

  5. keefie says:

    i have been diagnosed have having trigger thumb which means my thumb locks up at random times due to repetitive use and exposure to cold conditions. I currently work nights in a major supermarket filling chiller aisles , unloading deliveries and sorting deliveries. I went to the doctors who gave me a note stating i was to go on light duties & restricting the use of my right hand. my manager refused to acknowledge this note & put me on normal duties. i then went back to my doctors as i was in a lot of pain , which subsequently led to me having two weeks of without pay. i am due to see the consultant in a few weeks for them to decide my next step of treatment, I am back at work and have explained that i need un- repetitive light duties which do not involve spending prolonged periods of time in chiller cabinets. my managers have not done this and disregarded the doctors advice again. can i claim against the company/manager for my two weeks off as it was their fault i was off .do the company have a duty of care to provide me with light duties away from chillers as they have done for other employees in the past. i feel discriminated against and treated unfairly . your thoughts would be appreciated.

  6. Sammy says:

    Hi My workplace has set up a IT Training Room with straight desks, flat screens, keyboards, mouse’s and docking stations (users bring their own laptops). The chairs that have been supplied are standard chairs with legs not operator chairs. The room is only used for training purposes i.e. when needed to train staff members on new pieces of software etc. Are the chairs supplied suitable for this purpose as the workstations aren’t going to be used habitually or do the chairs still need to be proper operator chairs?

    • Safe Workers says:

      @Sammy – If they’re only to be used for short periods of time this should not be an issue. Height adjustability would be the main issue if you had an especially tall or short operator.

  7. Stephen Gibson says:

    I have been diagnosed with fibromyalgia, arthritis of the spine and I also have a sliped disk. I have been finding it progressively more difficult to work. I have been off work for arround a month, also off for weeks at a time on and off preceding this. I have begged my doctor to give me a fit note stating I am fit for work but light duties. I have to work as I am in a lot of debt due to only receiving SSP and as I am employed I am not entitled to claim anything. I am still in extreme pain but will be homeless if I don’t pay my rent. The only pain killers that take the edge off the pain render my unable to drive thus unable to work. What are my options if my employer cannot or will not take adequate measures to make it possible for me to carry on working as taking time off is just not an option sa I have a family to support. Can I insist on reduced hours and refuse to do call out, as being a heating engineer I can end up doing 16 hour days when on call. I start at 8 am and I struggle to work till 3:30 as I am in agony and barely able to drive. Basicaly I would like to know what my employers responsability is in this situation ( my hands are in agony just typing this) I feel I am in a catch 22 situation, being unable to work and at the same time having to work as I cannot let my family be homeless. L

    • Safe Workers says:

      @Stephen Gibson – If your employer can realistically provide light duties, then they can do so. But are not obliged to pay you the same salary if you are doing a different job. If your employer does not have alternative work then they can dismiss you as you are unable to do your job.

  8. MFBOW says:

    my employer has told the staff we have to attend a meeting, after hours, that will take up to 3 hours. We have also been told when we finish work we are to go home and shower and then put on our uniform before going to the venue where the meeting is going to be held. Can they insist we attend? I work a 10/11 hour day and do not want to waste the few hours I have each evening attending a meeting no one wants to go to anyway. They have also told us we must now be clean shaven, wear a uniform that we have to purchase full price and must shower every day for work. I personally find this offensive and wonder if they are over stepping the mark by saying this. They have never had a uniform before, there is nothing in my contract re uniform and if we leave they are going to take the whole cost out of final pay even though it has the company logo on it and would be of no use if no longer working for this company. Can someone let me know their thoughts on where I go from here with this.

  9. scally says:

    HI i wonder can you help ? I boke my leg at work and have a claim going on. I have just been given the all clear to return to work by my consultant .After eight months off. The question i want to ask is i have a offer of another job elsewhere and want to take it is there anything to stop me from giving my notice. thanks for any advice

    • Safe Workers says:

      @scally – No, from what you’ve told us there wouldn’t be a problem. There is nothing to force you to stay with an employer even if you have an injury claim in place.

  10. sam says:

    I for a public school 10 years and applied for a new position I was moving from a grounds specialist to a lead custodian. Increase in pay and new classification. This means I’m on probation for 10 months. I was asked to move 10 tables from there current spot about 200 feet mind you the tables weight is over 200 lbs. I had the secretary at the school I work at to put a work order in to our maintenance department requesting help to move the tables. We have to have a work order for everything. The response I received said no they wouldn’t provide me help and that I needed tpo coordinate the move with my night custodian. Now I’m 5’2″ 100 lbs and my nigth custodian is 5″ 150 lbs. There were 2 grounds men on our campus and they offered to help but our supervisor said no they couldn’t help us because it was my site and I had to handle it. So we did using a dolly and strapping the table to the dolly. Now mind you if the table was to fall we would both get hurt could even result in a major injury. It took us 1 1/2 hrs to move the tables. The next day when the tables needed to be moved back my supervisor sent to of his maintance guys over with furniture dollies to move the tables they made the move in about 30 mins. People watching my self and night custodian moving the tables were in shock. Since I’m on probation I’ve been told there is nothing I can do. Is this true.

  11. BML says:

    I have worked for a large college for 10 years and have spent the last year in a new department due to a programme of change management (redundancies) I have been doing a number of teaching roles that are new to me and a whole new clientele. This has caused me to become stressed and have recently been off with work related stress for a number of months. Can anyone advise on the following? I am attending a well-being meeting with my line manager and a representative from HR department. I do not want to get back into a similar situation. Any advice would be greatly appreciated. Please.

  12. Jason says:

    Had accident in work and after 11wks off the doctor gave me note to say return on light duties. After a wk back I was making myself worse and employers said withdraw light duties job as was going to slowly even though it wasn’t light duties job they had me doing. They said want me back on sick and been signed off 2 more wks. Can they do that?

  13. nor says:

    I have just returned to work after having breast cancer my shift is 6.00am till 12.00pm 6 hours a day 5 days a week since my return I have been off work sick twice and just had my addentdance review and told if I have any more time off they may give me a worning they also would like me to change my shifts still only doing 6 hours a day can they do thisThankyou

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.