Managing return to work
The longer a worker is off work with back pain, the less likely it becomes that they will return. However, by intervening early and putting in place return to work arrangements, you can avoid losing workers through long-term sickness.
- Always maintain regular contact with the absent employee so you can help them keep motivated and prepare the individual for their return.
- Prepare and agree a return to work plan (as a rough guide, for absences longer than about 2 weeks) with a goal for the individual to be back doing their original job after a certain number of days or weeks. A return to work plan should:
- be regularly reviewed to ensure that progress is made;
- provide helpful transitional work arrangements that may include a gradual increase in hours or allowing more time for certain tasks to be completed;
- be tailored to the individual.
- Consider modifying the job, work system or workstation if this would help.
- Sometimes simple adjustments can help the individual concerned and prevent others becoming ill or injured.
More detailed advice on managing sickness absence and return to work can be found on the sickness absence webpages.
- Manual handling at work: A brief guide
- Managing upper limb disorders in the workplace
- Manual handling assessment charts
- Risk assessment of pushing and pulling (RAPP) tool
- Making the best use of lifting and handling aids