Returning to Work After an Accident or Injury

If you are returning to work after an absence due to an accident or injury it can be a worrying process. Getting back to work is an important part of recovery from an accident. However, it’s important to understand that a return to work after injury might need a considered process. This is particuarly important if your injury happened at work.

Two people sitting at a desk discussing returning to work after injury

A good workplace will usually be in touch from time to time whilst you’ve been recovering. Remember that your injuries may not only be physical, but mental. If you’ve been in a serious accident, it can have an effect on your mental health. This should be considered by you and your employer when planning a return to work.

Returning to Work After an Accident – The Process

Once you’re fit enough to go back to work, you’ll usually be asked to attend a return to work meeting with your employer or supervisor. This need not be formal and shouldn’t cause you to panic. These meetings are designed to welcome you back, find out how you’re feeling and to discuss any health related issues you might still have.

Your Rights Under the Equality Act 2010

Your return to work meeting is your chance to raise any workplace adjustments you need to be made. For example, if you’re experiencing physical mobility difficulties or have become disabled after your accident. Your rights under the Equality Act 2010 entitle you to reasonable adjustments being made to allow you to return to work.

What Are Reasonable Adjustments When Returning to Work?

Most employers want to retain the skills, personal qualities and experience of their workforce. They will want to do everything they can to make your return to work go as smoothly as possible.

As well as adjusting your work 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, you might be able to come back one or two days a week. A phased return to work after accident or injury could take place over a few weeks. This would let you get settled back into your routine without being under pressure.

Your workload could be made lighter. Your employer should alter your Working Hours so that you can attend any rehabilitation or medical appointments. Many employers will also have an Occupational Therapist who can also offer you advice and assistance.

Keep Talking to Your Employer

The most important thing is that you have a good dialogue with your supervisor or employer after your return. If they are kept in the loop about the state of your health after your return to work, they can give the support you need. It’s vital to talk openly with them about any physical or psychological problems you may be experiencing. You have a right to support from your employer when returning to work after accident or injury. Keep talking to them.

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. A good employer will find an adjusted 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 affect mental health. Your employer should be made aware of this in order to give you as much time as possible to return to full-health.

30 thoughts on “Returning to Work After an Accident or Injury

  1. Garyw78 says:

    I had accident at work just over 2 weeks ago were I have no fractured my wrist, the first 2weeks was in splint so was asked to come in on light duties, but now after going back to fracture clinic I am now in cast, so I can’t drive as insurance could be invalid, work are now trying to get me to sign to say I won’t claim in return for 80% of wages, yes with Covid about you can see where my wage will be coming from. Any advice would be greatfull

  2. Neb says:

    I had a nasty fall 5 weeks ago, I returned to work this week instead of putting me on lighter days I’ve been put on 40 hours. My back is playing up now . I’m concerned I wasn’t offered occupational therapy before restarting . What are my rights please.

  3. Col says:

    I had a accident 18 months ago been back at work 9 month only 3 days as I’m unable to do full time now my boss as said they want me back full time but I can’t do 5 days a week as I am struggling as it is what are my rights

  4. Tralynn says:

    I injured my elbow by heavy lifting while at work. My job role requires much heavy lifting throughout my shifts. I was told by physio that because I have diabetes my tendons become weaker and I am unlikely to be able to do the heavy lifting in my job. Managers have been supportive but are unsure what to do with me if I can’t do my job fully and might not be able to accommodate me in a new role. If I’m laid off what do I need to do?

  5. cici says:

    I have a friend and coworker who broke her ankle. While at home. She will need surgery on it. Her doctor said as soon as she has surgery she will be released to go back to work on a knee scooter. But out job said she could not come back on a knee scooter and that she would have to be 100% recovered. She has been with out company for almost 5 years now. Is this even legal? I mean, she is temporarily disabled, and our company “prides” themselves on not be discriminatory against disabled people. Or so they say. Is this something she should talk to a lawyer about

  6. Jr says:

    I have been working for a company for the last 5 years I broke my leg in January while on holiday I am back to work been back to work the last 4 to 5 weeks but only doing 4 to 4 to 4 and 1/2 hours a day as I’m still struggling with my foot I do a lot of walking as I’m posting the envelopes through people’s letterboxes the Firs been quite good to me at the moment but I just like to know where I stand can they sack me or lay me off as I’m trying to do is get back to work and I really want to get back full-time but struggling at the moment

  7. Rumsa says:

    I had an accident at work on Sat.Fell over due pallets been on pedestrian way.i had a light pain in begining.Accident report made.Sunday i came back to work with hand still in pain.Planing to go to gp as paing getting stronger,but my boss saying i will not be paid for first free days for my off sick just because i came to work on that right?please help

  8. Broken says:

    Hi ptsd from m:c 4 yr off work now no future or end in sight from this terrible disorder was self employed no one but me to lose everything and pick up the pieces of my life , never mind 6 monthes off work try 4 yrs , it strips you of every thing back to a beare bone skeleton

  9. Shelley says:

    Had a accident three months ago returned to work my boss is unhelpful ,obstructive not getting any support wee agreed I would go back to work. Three days a week my boss up it to four not consulting me won’t pass my summer holidays or leave of absence what are my rights

  10. Shelley says:

    Worked foe my company 35 years had a accident off for three months disapointed in support from my manger. just returned to work my boss won’t pass my summer holiday or a leave of absence I feel I am being punished for beeing off sick she’s very obstructive what are my rights

  11. Emz says:

    Hi. I recently sustained a break to my hand due to my 1-1 breaking it. I went back in ti work next day in a cast and sling. But wondered if I’m insured if I get further injury from my hand while at work.

  12. jules says:

    Hi, I work with children with learning difficulties and during an incident I sustained a ring finger injury on my dominate right hand which has lead to needing 7 weeks off work, Ive had 3 physio sessions which didn’t help and awaiting an orthopaedic appt in April, whilst over the time I have much more manoverability I still have pain in my finger and struggle to weight bear. I have been in this employment for 18 mths and whilst the usual standard sick pay is 4 weeks for every year served I am concerned as to my 3 remaining weeks pay. I have returned to work on light duties but finding it hard, my employers have suggested occupational health of which I am looking into but feel I have been forced in returning to work whilst still unfit just because of pay,I would be grateful for any advice on what are my rights in this case, thank you.

  13. Tess says:

    I have a shoulder injury at work and has been off sick for two and half months. And on returning to work my doctor gave me certificate for light duties for three months. My employer sent me back home to complete the light duty months at home saying health and safety is not garanteed and then come back to work with a fit note certificate from my doctor after the three months. Is my job safe at all? Will I still get my three months salaries? I have work my employer for over ten years. Please advice me on how to follow this current issue. Many thanks and blessings.

  14. MrsR says:

    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.

  15. Tris says:

    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.

  16. Prq says:

    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?

  17. JJ says:

    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 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

  18. CC says:

    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

  19. jj says:

    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

  20. jj says:

    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 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

  21. Cr says:

    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

  22. jj says:

    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

  23. JJ says:

    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 insurance have sent me everywhere spinal specialist psychiatrist counciling but only too gain information no actual medical 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 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

  24. Craig says:

    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?

  25. Mart says:

    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

  26. william says:

    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?

  27. Jay77 says:

    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

  28. Craigyboy94 says:

    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?

  29. FootpainS/O says:

    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?

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