This section outlines the elements of best practice in rehabilitation and provides guidance for managing sickness absence.
On occasions, in spite of our best efforts, some employees will have time off work due to work-related or other stress. Wherever possible, employees should be encouraged to stay at work, rather than take time off. However, if a period of absence is necessary, it’s important to manage the return to work with the individual. Rehabilitating someone into the workplace is sometimes called ‘vocational rehabilitation’.
In 2003, the Institute for Employment Studies produced an HSE-commissioned report on Best practice in rehabilitating employees following absence due to work-related stress.
The key findings from this work were that the following elements should be present when dealing with absence due to work-related stress:
- written policies or guidelines
- effective procedures for overseeing the rehabilitation process
- trained line managers
- early contact with the employee
- early health assessment
- having a rehabilitation plan agreed by all stakeholders, particularly the employee
- providing flexible return-to-work options
You can get more helpful advice in the leaflet Work and health: changing how we think about common health problems.
The HSE has developed tools and documents to help with absence management and rehabilitation. These include:
- Managing sickness absence and return to work
- Management Standards for work-related stress
- Example stress policy
- Return-to-work steps
- Managing sickness absence documents
- Small business sickness absence advice
- Managing sickness absence flowchart
- Fit notes – information on the fit note from Department for Work and Pensions, which replaced the sick note in the UK in April 2010
- Working for a healthier tomorrow – Dame Carol Black’s review of the health of working age people, including a section on early intervention and rehabilitation
- An absence management tool – designed by the CIPD, ACAS and HSE
- The Return to Work: Knowledge Base – a resource designed to help people overcome injury and get back to work
- Managing attendance and employee turnover – advice from ACAS
- Returning to work after long term sickness – advice for employees from the government’s Careers Service
- Mental health and work – a report from the Royal College of Psychiatrists, including advice on rehabilitation and return to work
- A Peninsula Medical School report, Avoiding long-term incapacity for work: developing an early intervention in primary care, considers the evidence base for early intervention in sickness absence
- Concepts of rehabilitation for the management of common health problems is a paper commissioned by the Department for Work and Pensions that attempts to develop an intellectual framework for policy-making, research and development.
Professional health associations
Financial help and advice
Under certain circumstances, employees may qualify for government funding for the adjustments required to enable them to work.
‘If you feel that the type of work you do is affected by a disability or health condition that is likely to last for 12 months or more, ask the Disability Employment Adviser (DEA) at your local Jobcentre Plus office about Access to Work. They can put you in touch with your closest Access to Work Business Centre to check whether you’re eligible for help.’
HM Revenue and Customs has a range of advice, including a calculator for statutory sick pay.
Developed in partnership with: