Returning to work

You may have some concerns about returning to work after time away due to your disability, injury or health condition. A successful return to work will require some simple planning by both you and your employer.

Before you begin, visit our page Talking to others about your disability to explore the benefits of being open about your disability.

Step 1: Talk to your doctor

Make an appointment with your doctor and provide a copy of your job description. This will help your doctor give you an approved date when you can return to work. You may be approved to return to work immediately or some time in the future. You may be required to ease back into work on reduced days or hours or on restricted duties.

Step 2: Meet with your employer

You are the best source of information about your abilities and limitations resulting from your disability. You should plan to meet with your employer and discuss these abilities and limitations.

Step 3: Review the essential tasks of your job

Review the tasks that must be completed to get your job done. This information can usually be found in your job description. Review the job description with your employer. Check if you are able to complete the essential tasks. Discuss if there are any workplace changes that can be made to help you do the job.

Step 4: Agree on a ‘Return to Work’ plan

A ‘Return to Work’ plan may be prepared by your employer or a rehabilitation professional. Such a plan could include:

  • your job title
  • a summary of your duties
  • starting and finishing times
  • break times
  • any specific restrictions or recommendations (listed on your medical certificate)
  • the supervisors or managers responsible for monitoring your return to work
  • a time schedule for increasing your workload (if a gradual return to work is recommended).

You may be asked to sign the plan to show that you agree to it and understand your obligations within the plan. If you have any issues regarding your return to work, talk to your employer immediately as this will ensure a successful return to work in the long term.

Step 5: Consider rebuilding your skills with training

Training may allow you to return to your original workplace or to find work in a new occupation or industry.

If you are returning to the same workplace, consider whether you are able to perform the essential tasks of your original job or if changes to these tasks are required. Training may allow you to take on new tasks and demonstrate your flexibility in the workplace.

If you need to consider a new career or occupation, visit our section on 'Finding or changing jobs’.

Step 6: Consider a mentoring and buddy program

Mentoring or buddy programs can help you in your return to work. These programs focus on building supportive relationships between workmates.

You and your employer may consider organising a workplace assessment through the Employment Assistance Fund. A workplace assessment may help to identify changes to your work environment and assist you with a successful return to work.

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