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Long term disability & returning to work

Any instance of long-term absence from work due to a physical or psychological injury can lead to many complicated emotions when the prospect of returning to work becomes a reality. 

For example, you may worry that your colleagues will have questions and that all eyes will be on you. Next, you could begin to experience doubt that your skills will be as sharp as when you left your position, meaning you may need help – this can lead to feelings of embarrassment and inadequacy. 

Perhaps above all, you may be apprehensive in general about your readiness to return to work, despite assurances from family who you could then begin to believe you will let down if you don’t get on with things. There’s a lot to take on board. 

For further information, check out what happens when long term disability ends?

But for now, let’s look at some of the main considerations of returning to work after a long-term disability.

Gather your documentation 

Medical records and recommendations from your physician will enable you to provide your employer with information regarding your situation on request.

While some employers may know you by name and appreciate your circumstances, other roles in larger companies could mean that your issues are largely unknown and that any return to work is assumed to be unconditional.  

Remember, do not be put off by negative language such as being told you are “struggling” or “needing help”. Where you have been injured and you are looking to remove all of the stops in returning to work, you are only doing what you feel is right for you and your family – this action should be applauded, not pitied. 

Therefore, try to get in the habit of thinking along the lines of gathering documentation to put together your case for a return to work using the smartest answers and methods available.

You are not struggling. You do need help. You are seeking answers to return to work in the most productive way possible. A positive mental attitude leads to productive outcomes.  

Speak to Human Resources about the disability policy

Your employer will be able to provide details about the workplace disability policy. By making human resources aware of your situation, the workplace disability policy will be used to tailor your return to work.

For example, a full review of your situation may reveal that you may not be suitable for particular roles unless measures such as increased accessibility are introduced, or that you may prefer to switch roles. 

You could also find that you are entitled to certain employee benefits where medical conditions limit you from fulfilling the full range of responsibilities associated with a role.

Above all else, take your time. Only you know when you are ready.


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