Returning to work

Before returning to work

Depending on the nature of your absence due to illness and your personality, there may be big differences in what you need as an employee before returning to work.

In any case, your supervisor should contact you before your first day at work so you can agree on a good process for your return.

Suggestions for topics to discuss before you return to work 

  • Consider whether it is possible to visit your workplace before your first day at work: Particularly in case of long-term sick leave or absence due to stress, this will give your body and mind a chance to feel that it is not (any longer) dangerous to go to work.
  • If possible, you could discuss whether it would make sense to reduce the number of working hours when you first return to work: You need to get used to going to work again, both physically and mentally. You may need a little time to regain your work identity/self-confidence.
  • Agree on what is to be communicated to your colleagues: It will help you return to work if your colleagues are informed of your working hours and conditions, so they talk to you and not about you. Lack of information could contribute to uncertainty among your colleagues about their role and/or how they can help you return to work in a good way. You decide the level of information to your colleagues.
  • Agree which tasks you should work on when you return to work: Feelings of success will increase motivation and enthusiasm. Maybe a colleague can support you to make it less overwhelming.
  • Consider the physical working conditions: e.g. is it possible to work in a quiet room or at home, noise, workload, etc.  

Follow-up interview(s)

  • When you have returned to work, you and your supervisor should hold a follow-up interview.
  • This interview is meant to ensure that it is a positive experience for you to return to work. During the follow-up interview, it may be necessary to make changes to the agreements that were written down during the sickness absence interview. Both you and your supervisor should be aware of this. 
  • Book a number of regular follow-up meetings during the first period of time after you have returned to work. You could start with a 30 minute meeting once a week, then every other week. Regular meetings give a sense of security and you can book the next meeting at the end of each session.
  • Discuss whether your duties and working hours are OK, and plan how you can increase both gradually.