Phased return allows an employee to return to the workplace gradually and at a slower pace.
All you need to know in 30 seconds
Phased return allows an employee to return to the workplace gradually and at a slower pace enabling them to rehabilitate back in to the working environment after a period of long term absence. Research suggests this can aid in recovery and help build up stamina after a long-term absence. Timings and duration vary for each case, consult Occupational Health Services (OHS) and consider advice provided regarding timescales and any temporary adjustments when agreeing a plan with the employee.
Phased return should be arranged by you, and the employee and reviewed regularly. You will need to consider:
- what the employee can do
- the impact on the team/ service
- what hours are reasonable
- support needed
- modifications to their work areas
- flexible working for appointments
- timescale for phased return and a review date
All you need to know in detail
Phased return to work allows the employee to gradually return back to the workplace over an agreed period of time, and research suggests that it also aids recovery. Not everyone who has been off on long-term absence will need or require a phased return. Normally the employee will be able to return to work with zero or minimal reasonable adjustments. However, a phased return may be required particularly where the employee needs to build up their stamina. Taking annual leave and slowly building up time the employee spends at work is the usual way of doing this.
Times allowed for rehabilitation may vary depending on the absence duration and reason for absence and will need to be decided on a case-by-case basis.
You should discuss with OH professionals the best course of action with the employee, considering:
- the nature of the condition the employee is suffering from
- what level of work they can or cannot do
- how many hours they are reasonably capable of doing
- over what period of time they should work towards achieving a full-time return to work
- any modifications that would help them return to work faster, including special equipment or re-training
- time needed to continue any ongoing medical treatment such as physiotherapy, counselling, hospital/GP visits
- regular reviews of the situation
- compliance with the Equality Act.
This allows members of staff to start to make links with the workplace prior to a full return to work. This may include steps like, coming into the workplace for a meeting with you and/or colleagues to have an informal catch up. Where a member of staff has been off for a longer period of time this can help the employee to settle back into work more quickly, and remove some of the fear around return.