Employees are more likely to return to work safely and productively following long-term sickness absence if they are well supported during their absence and on their return.
Everyone has a role to play in the return-to-work journey: returning individuals need to prioritise self-care and self-management to sustain their health and work; colleagues can provide valuable practical and emotional support; managers can facilitate any work adjustments and support that returning workers need to work effectively; while organisations can help to accommodate individual needs through compassionate and flexible absence management policies and rehabilitation approaches.
The main causes of long-term absence have remained fairly consistent over the last few decades. However, the COVID-19 pandemic has had lasting impact on ways of working, including absence. Although the impact was different depending on individual circumstances, the pandemic generally increased health and wellbeing concerns amongst organisations and individuals alike. This emphasises the need to offer adequate support and ensure that those who need work adjustments or job modifications (including reduced hours or flexible work) are able to access them to facilitate a return to work.
What is long-term absence?
Why we need to address long-term sickness absence
Shared responsibility for supporting returning employees
Guiding principles to support the return-to-work journey
Policies and processes
UK legal obligations
Explore our collection of resources around legal issues surrounding absence, including Q&As
Guidance and practical recommendations for supporting employees experiencing domestic abuse
Practical advice to help employers provide support around menstruation and menstrual health in the workplace