Phased return to work: Your questions answered

Ready to return to work after an extended period of absence? Don’t let the prospect daunt you. Read on for our advice on how to immerse yourself back into the workplace successfully.

It’s not always easy to return to work after an extended period of leave, whether it was for a couple of months or years. Regardless of the reason for your absence, whether it was due to sickness, stress, parental leave to a sabbatical, the thought of picking up your career from when you left off can seem daunting. But it’s important that you overcome this fear, and remember that you’re just as capable as you were before your time out, you just need to get warmed up!

If you’ve decided that you want to get back to work, now it’s time to approach your employer about your return. A good way to go about this is to phase your return to work, which is becoming increasingly popular among UK employees. With this in mind, read on for our expert advice on the phased return to work after a period of absence.

Phased return to work: Your questions answered

Image: Adobe Stock Library

What is a phased return to work?

A phased return to work is exactly what it says on the tin – instead of re-entering the workforce at full throttle, you gradually immerse yourself into the daily pace of life until you’re ready to work the same amount of days and hours that you used to. It’s a popular method across various industries, and can help ease a return to work.

A phased return to work usually lasts anywhere between two to six weeks, but can go on longer if necessary. The number of hours and days you work in a week varies – in short, a phased return to work plan revolves entirely around you and your needs.

How do I plan a phased return to work?

You can either approach your employer or your GP about a phased return to work; both will put you in touch with an occupational health expert. The occupation health expert will have an influence over what your plan should look like, based on your condition, and will be able to advise both you and your employer on how phased your return to work needs to be.

When returning to work, you will need to keep in touch with them to ensure that the phased return to work place is optimised to your general health and productivity levels.

What are the examples of a phased return to work?

If you are recovering from an operation, for instance, you might be recommended to re-enter the workforce for two days a week until you start to regain your strength. Dependent on how you feel, the next week you will join for three days a week and so on.

Alternatively, some phased return to work plans focus on the number of hours worked. For example, you might work half days, and come in for the afternoon if you’re still tired in the morning from any medication you’re taking. Likewise, you might shave an hour off from each side of the working day to avoid a stressful commute.

Phased return to work: Your questions answered

Image: Adobe Stock Library

What are the benefits of a phased return to work?

There are numerous benefits of returning to work: you get to make an impact at your business, progress the career ladder, and return to your old self. But it can seem daunting, launching straight into the nine to five once more. That’s why a phased return to work can be more beneficial, as it helps to ease you into the working day in a way that’s best for you, whilst maintaining your recovery at the same time.

Whilst a phased return to work typically won’t last longer than six weeks, you might find that your employer will allow flexible working, letting you choose the hours you work in times that suit you. This has multiple benefits, enabling you to meet personal obligations when you need to, work at the hours when you feel most productive, and avoid burnout.

What about pay during a phased return to work?

When it comes to a phased return to work, every company has a different policy towards pay. If you are on a salary, you are more likely to be paid for the hours that you haven’t worked, and if you are on an hourly wage, you are more likely to only be paid for the hours that you do work.

The best way to ensure that you are paid throughout your phased return to work period is to agree this with your employer, to ensure there are no surprises when you receive your payslip.

If you’re thinking of returning to work but fancy a career change, why not check out our latest vacancies here.

Related Articles:

Different types of parental leave

The Changing Role of Working Fathers

Maternity Scandal Series

Sickness During Annual Leave – Where do you Stand?