Returning to work is probably the last thing on your mind following a serious injury but for most people it is something that they will have to consider sooner or later. Depending on the circumstances of your injury and your recovery, you may not be able to return to your role straight away or may need your employer to make adjustments to the way you work to support you and help you plan your return to work. For some people returning to the job they had before might not be possible. The rehabilitation journey is different for every person and return to work, or a change to how you work, is a big part of that process.
How should I best prepare for my return to work after injury?
For many people going back to work and picking up where they left off is unlikely to be possible; this could be for physical or mental reasons. Therefore, a phased return to work might be preferable for you and your employer to make sure you can ease back into your role without becoming overwhelmed. You should check to see if your employer has a policy which deals with this in their handbook. It would most likely form part of their absence policy and should include steps to be taken to help you get back into work.
If, as a result of your injuries, you have a disability in law, which is not necessarily the same as a medical disability, your employer has a duty to make reasonable adjustments to help make your return to work successful. It may be appropriate for your employer to instruct an occupational health therapist to carry out an assessment with you to understand what adjustments are needed. An example of an adjustment would be making changes to your work environment or workstation to make it more accessible to you. Another example would be varying your working hours which might be relevant if you get fatigued and need regular rests.
Whatever happens during this period it is important to keep the channel of communication open between you and your employer. This might mean regular catch ups with your line manager or a person from HR. We can support you with all these issues.
I’m struggling with my return to work and my employer is investigating my performance – what should I do?
If you are struggling with the adjustment back to work, first try to speak to your employer and see if there is any extra support available. If your employer feels that you are not performing as well as they need you to they may decide to take steps to investigate your performance further.
They should either conduct a capability review or a performance management review. They may have a formal policy in the staff handbook which sets out how this process works and, if they do, they should follow it. The procedures will involve your employer carrying out an investigation into your ability to do your job. This should not be intended as a criticism and they should recognise that underperformance is not something you have control over. Whichever procedure they choose to follow it should involve meeting with you to discuss the issues. Targets should be set with an agreed date for when each target should be met. You should then have regular reviews to establish how well you are keeping up with those targets.
At the end of the process a decision will be made about whether you will continue with your role or whether your employment will be terminated. If your employer fails to follow a formal process and decides to dismiss you, you may be able to bring an unfair dismissal claim against them.
My employer is discriminating against me due to my injuries/disability – what are my rights?
Under the Equality Act 2010 it is unlawful for an employer to discriminate against an employee because of a disability. Therefore, if you are treated unfavourably by your employer because of your disability or something linked to it, you may be able to bring a claim for disability discrimination.
This may arise because your employer:
- Terminates your employment; or
- Does not agree to a request to make reasonable adjustments.
If you feel that you are being discriminated against because of your injuries our team can offer legal advice and support. If you do have a claim to make, they can assist you in doing so.
My employment is being terminated – what should I do?
If your employment is terminated your employer may present you with a settlement agreement that they want you to sign.
A settlement agreement ensures that your employment is ended on agreed terms or is used to resolve a dispute regarding your employment.
When an agreement is signed you waive all your rights to take your employer to a court or tribunal in the future. It is a statutory requirement that you receive independent legal advice on its terms which your employer must pay for.
Settlement agreements are complex so you will need expert advice. Our specialist employment lawyers will guide you through the agreement, make sure you understand the terms and get the best possible package.
We recognise that this will already by a worrying and stressful time for you and so the assistance of an employment lawyer could help to alleviate some of that worry. Our employment lawyers will be able to guide you through any employment issues you have. This may include planning for your return to work, your rights to time off from work, rights in relation to sickness absence, disciplinary and capability procedures, discrimination and termination of your employment.
Can you help me with employment law issues?
Returning to work after major trauma can be stressful at the best of times. Our team of legal experts are ready to help get to the bottom of any employment law issues you may be facing.
If you would like our help with legal advice around employment law issues please get in touch.