When you take a medical leave from your job, knowing when or how to return can be challenging. You may be anxious about returning and worried about whether you can handle returning to work. Or, you may feel like you have been gone so long that getting back in the swing will be tough.
Whatever your concerns, here are some tips on making returning to work after medical leave as smooth as possible. Coming back from medical leave can be a daunting task. Not only have you been out of the workforce for an extended period, but you may also be dealing with ongoing health issues.
However, there are some things you can do to make the transition back to work a little easier. First, take some time to assess your skills and interests. It’s also essential to be honest with yourself about your health. If you’re not ready to return to work full-time, consider looking for part-time or freelancing work. And finally, don’t be afraid to ask for help.
Talk to your friends and family about your job search, and let them know if you need assistance with childcare or transportation. These steps can ease the transition back into the workforce after medical leave.
Tips for Returning to Work After Medical Leave
1. Prepare for a Return-to-Work Interview
Preparing for a return-to-work interview is one of the most critical steps in returning to work after an extended medical leave. This interview allows you to discuss your health status with your employer, and it also provides a chance for you to ask any questions that you may have about your job.
When preparing for the interview, it is essential, to be honest about your health and clearly understand your restrictions and accommodations. It would help if you also were prepared to discuss how you plan to manage your condition and how you will stay productive at work.
By being open and honest, you can help to ensure a smooth transition back into the workplace.
2. Obtain a Medical Certification of Fitness
You may be wondering how to obtain a medical certification of fitness after being on medical leave. The process may differ depending on your company’s policies, but there are a few general steps you can follow.
First, you must request a medical certificate from your treating doctor. This certificate should state that you are fit to return to work and include any restrictions or modifications that need to be made to your job duties.
Once you have obtained this certificate, you must submit it to your employer. Your employer will review the certificate and determine whether you can return to work.
If your employer has any concerns, they may ask for additional information from your doctor or request that you undergo a fitness for duty evaluation. However, as long as you have a valid medical certificate, you should be able to return to work after being on medical leave.
3. Know Your Rights
You must know your rights as an employee and receive compensation if you become unable to work due to stress, mental health concerns, a psychical sickness, or something that requires surgery.
After an employee takes medical leave, they may have certain rights under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). The FMLA entitles eligible employees of covered employers to take up to 12 weeks of unpaid, job-protected leave per year for specific family and medical reasons.
Employees are also entitled to return to the same or equivalent job at the end of their leave. Furthermore, employees may have the right to continue their health insurance coverage while on leave.
4. Review Your Company’s Sick Pay Policy
After returning from a medical leave of absence, reviewing your company’s policy on sick pay is a good idea. This is important for two reasons. First, you must ensure you’re still eligible for paid time off if you get sick again.
Second, you may be entitled to a lump sum payment for the unused portion of your leave. If your policy has changed or you have questions about your benefits, talk to your HR representative.
By understanding your company’s policy on sick pay, you can ensure that you’re prepared if illness strikes again.
5. Plan a Gradual Return
Instead of jumping back into the job cold turkey, you can ease into work routines until you’re ready to put in the same number of hours and days that you were before. The best thing you can do for yourself and your employer is talk about time management with your doctor and supervisor.
For instance, if you return to work after surgery, they may recommend a flexible schedule that allows you to do some of your duties from home or in a reduced-hours office setting while you recover.
6. Leave the House Early
If you have been out on medical leave for an extended period, it is essential to gradually ease back into the workplace. Don’t try to take on too much too soon. Your goal should gradually increase your workload until you reach full speed.
One way to do this is to leave the house early each day. This will give you a chance to get used to being around other people and being in a work environment.
It will also help you to get some exercise and fresh air, which can be crucial for maintaining your health. Of course, you should always check with your doctor before making significant changes to your routine.
7. Relax and take it easy on yourself
After an extended medical leave, it can be difficult to read just to the demands of everyday life. It is essential to take things slowly and not put too much pressure on yourself. Give yourself time to rest and recover both physically and emotionally.
If possible, try to ease back into your routine gradually. Don’t be afraid to ask for help from family and friends. And most importantly, be patient with yourself.
8. Read emails One at a Time
Upon returning from medical leave, it can be tempting to try and catch up on all the emails that have piled up in your absence. However, this can be overwhelming and lead to burnout.
A better strategy is to take care of one email at a time. Start with the most recent emails and work your way back. Respond to each email individually, and don’t worry about replying to all of them at once.
This will help you stay focused and avoid getting overwhelmed. Additionally, be sure to set aside some time each day to check and respond to new emails. This will help you stay on top of your inbox and prevent additional stress.
9. Prepare to Explain Where You’ve Been
Your coworkers care about you. After an extended absence from work, it can be challenging to know how to re-engage with your colleagues. You may have been on medical leave, caring for a sick relative, or dealing with a personal issue.
Whatever the reason for your absence, it’s essential to take the time to prepare before you return to work. First, consider how much information you feel comfortable sharing with your colleagues.
If you want to keep your personal life private, you can say that you were taking care of some personal business.
10. Don’t Overthink It
After you’ve been on medical leave, it can be tough to jump back into things. You may have been out of the office for a while, and you may be feeling rusty. But don’t overthink it! Just take a deep breath and dive in.
It’s okay to make mistakes, and it’s okay to ask for help. Your colleagues will be understanding, and they’ll be happy to see you back. Just relax and go with the flow, and you’ll return to your old self in no time.
11. Try to Stay in the Loop During Your Illness
Keep in touch with your manager and coworkers while you’re sick to stay abreast of any changes that may have occurred. If you can’t catch up on your own time, make sure to meet with your supervisor on your first day back to get a high-level overview of what’s transpired while you were out.
Second, try to focus on the most critical tasks first. You may not be able to do everything at once, but by prioritizing, you can ensure that the most important items are taken care of.
12. Get Emotional and Practical Support
The feeling of isolation and vulnerability that comes with time off work is natural. If you’re feeling blue, reach out for help from those around you. This might be the Human Resources team at your company, your online social network, or a close friend.
Realizing others have been where you are and made it through is a huge confidence boost. A support system is essential if you’re dealing with a severe illness like cancer or a mental health problem, and there are many helpful charities and organizations to help you.
13. Don’t Be Afraid to Ask for Help
Don’t hesitate to ask for assistance if you cannot perform your former position’s obligations. Put your thoughts, questions, and justifications in writing and give them to your supervisor.
To help you transition back into work, they will find you a suitable position elsewhere or provide extra assistance.
14. Limit meetings
Attempt to schedule as few meetings as possible for your first day back. The rest of the day should be devoted to other duties while you are in a general meeting with your manager to review pertinent information.
For instance, set aside the better part of the day to reflect on your job, organize your email, and readjust to the office environment.
15. Practice single-tasking
The term “single-tasking” refers to concentrating on a single activity at a time, in contrast to “multitasking,” which requires juggling several. Plan out your time so particular actions can be completed at set times. This may aid you in keeping track of your tasks and keeping yourself from becoming sidetracked at the office.
16. Establish boundaries
Think about limiting your weekly work hours. If you often put in long hours at work, you might be tempted to start doing that again. However, you should take care of yourself and give yourself time to adjust to working again without jeopardizing your recuperation. Seeking your doctor’s opinion on whether or not you’re physically ready to return to work could be helpful.
17. Prioritize work-life balance
Do what you can to balance your professional and personal life. Maintain a healthy lifestyle by getting plenty of rest each night, eating well-balanced food, and getting regular exercise if possible. You could find that this helps you wind down at the end of the day and prepare you for the next.
18. Maintain open communication
Maintaining open communication with your employer throughout your medical leave may be helpful but is not required by law. It’s a good idea to keep in touch with your supervisor or the HR department and keep them informed about your health and recovery progress.
Remember that you should only give as much information as you feel like sharing and that your employer may contact you at any time throughout your absence to ask for updates. They cannot, however, coerce you into going back to work.
19. Meet with HR
Contact human resources and set up a meeting. Finish any administrative tasks needed during the meeting so you can dive right back into your work on day two. If you have any questions or concerns about returning to work or need any adjustments, this meeting could be the perfect time to bring them up.
20. Incorporate a schedule into your life.
No matter what sort of routine you follow before your medical leave, it’s vital that you establish a new one that is appropriate for your new role. Create a routine that works for you by progressively introducing new habits into your schedule. Spend some of your weekdays engaging in activities other than work, whether social or fulfilling other obligations.
21. Get all Your Paperwork in Order
Check your company’s sick leave policy to see if there is any documentation you need to give up on your return to work if you are returning to the same role. This entails obtaining the necessary documentation, such as a doctor’s note, before returning to work. If you don’t bring these items on your first day back to work, you can immediately have trouble obtaining your statutory sick pay.
Going on medical leave can be a difficult decision. Not only are you dealing with whatever health issue led to the leave in the first place, but you are also facing an uncertain future. Will you be able to return to work? If so, when? And how will your job have changed in the meantime?
These are all valid concerns, and it is essential to take the time to address them before deciding between returning to work. Another consideration is your health. Returning to work may not be your best decision if you are not yet fully recovered.
Be honest about your capabilities and ensure you are physically and mentally ready before transitioning back into the workforce. Once you have considered all of these factors, you will be better positioned to decide whether returning to work is the right choice.