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Long Term Illness: Are You Ready to go Back to Work?

By: Maggie Lonsdale BA (hons) - Updated: 10 Jan 2020 | comments*Discuss
Employment Employer Illness Long Term

There are no rights and wrongs about going back to work after a long term illness; you can only do what feels right for you.

There are, however, some guidelines to be taken into consideration to ensure that you are not rushing into returning to work.

Are You Physically Ready To Return To Work?

The most important aspect of your decision to return to work after a long term illness is whether you are actually well enough to return. You will have had some medical treatment, or at least a doctor’s appointment, throughout your sickness leave, so the best way to assess your current health is to ask for another appointment. Tell your doctor that you want to go back to work and ask if they think you are well enough.

Do you feel fit and well? If you are able to be relatively busy at home for a full day and have finished any necessary medical treatment that affects your ability to work, you are probably physically able to return to work.

Are You Emotionally Ready To Return To Work?

Even if you are thoroughly bored by day time television and are longing to get back to doing something more useful with your day, don’t forget that a long term illness can really take it out of you. Perhaps speak to your employer and see if you are able to go back to work part time, or do a couple of one-off days to see how you cope with it.

Many people who have dealt with a long term illness can feel very emotional during their first couple of weeks back at work, even though they felt ready to return. This can be for a number of reasons – perhaps you are still coming to terms with your illness, perhaps you are too well to stay at home but not quite well enough to deal with the pressures of work, or perhaps your priorities have changed since becoming ill and you do not want to stay in the same job anymore.

Are You Financially Ready To Return To Work?

For many people who have experienced a long term illness, their plan to return to work corresponds with a need to earn money. Although you are entitled to statutory sick pay for a maximum of 28 weeks, towards the end of this time you can feel pressured into feeling better. If you do not feel well enough to go back to work, or your doctor has advised against it, you can still make some choices. Can you afford to live on your partner’s salary, or can you afford to go part time? Could you take more unpaid leave?

Work out what you need to live on, which may mean foregoing some treats that your previous salary had enabled you to enjoy. When you know what money you need, you can think about whether or not you have to return to work if you do not want to. Your quality of life can improve exponentially to the amount of money you earn, as you will be able to spend more time with your family and not return to the stress that may have contributed to your long term illness.

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This is my 6 month off sick due to a spinal fracture. Just months before injury , changed my job to a care worker ( never done care before ) . Regret leaving my other job now as feel i dont know how to go about returning to care ? I need at this present time my last of ssp and not fully ready. I need advice if i need to pack in this job and look for something more suitable and less moving and handling ? Just unsure what to do ?
Shellabelle30 - 10-Jan-20 @ 2:13 PM
I've been ill for just over 2 years with an illness doctors are yet to pin down. It's showing itself similarly to menieres disease, but menieres episodes normally last hours, not weeks or months like I've experienced. Between not receiving the correct medical attention and having the DWP breathing down my neck, I have attempted to simply ignore my illness and carry on as normal. This has resulted in me starting 3 jobs in the past 2 years, 2 of which have put me in hospital reasonably quickly. So around a year ago, I accepted that work simply isn't an option with the quick onset of symptoms and what the symptoms do to me. However, since then, my Capability for Work Assessment with the DWP has scored zero. Meaning they would like me to return to work. So I'm faced with the dilemma of whether I should make attempts to return to work or not. I'm 27 years old, have always worked before this illness showed itself. So it certainly isn't a matter of laziness, despite how DWP and some doctors have made me feel. I honestly feel as if I've been cornered, I'm unable to help myself and the people and organisations created to help people in my situation aren't doing a whole lot. If anyone on here, can give me any advice whatsoever, I would massively appreciate it. Being in this limbo is destroying me currently.
Corndawg - 4-Apr-18 @ 3:36 AM
My wife has been ill for over 20 years,was on incapacity benefit, this was stopped around 5 years ago,we found out 2 years ago she had a major heart problem that she was born with,she recently had major open heart surgery, recovery is going to be many months, she gets no benefits of any sort, is she entitled to any help?
Pinky - 21-Mar-18 @ 4:29 PM
Jools - Your Question:
I have been off work since April 2017. I broke my neck, I feel I am ready to go back to work partime. Just need to find out if its worth it: I receive pip esa & also have carers.I know esa will ceaseWill I have to pay for my care?

Our Response:
We can't tell you this as we don't have enough information about your condition, your care needs or your salary.
AReturnToWork - 10-Oct-17 @ 3:04 PM
I have been off work since April 2017. I broke my neck, i feel i am ready to go back to work partime. Just need to find out if its worth it: I receive pip esa & also have carers. I know esa will cease Will i have to pay for my care?
Jools - 9-Oct-17 @ 2:10 PM
Yes people probably do return to workbefore they are fully fit, and yes it probably is the money that they need to live in this bloody taxed, rat race that is full of controllers. Would be nice to heal slowly allowing nature to take its course. Threats that the work place can't afford to continue paying your long term illness would probably make a person panic. I have learned many lessons whilst I've been off sick (not a regular sick taker) that one should not live beyond their means, always have a safety net in place. I'm contemplating not returning to my work place as it was probably that place initially the stresses etc that put me where I am along with other big companies stating they were going to break into my house and put a pay as you go meter. All along I was in credit, but just because they did not have my name and it was in the occupier....still being paid though. Disgusting treatment and a controlling society. The big organizations get bigger and more powerful and we give them the power to turn on us. Sorry to rant, but the world is a beautiful place, it's some of the people that ruin our experiences of it causing stress and illness through threatening behaviour !
Popsy - 17-Feb-17 @ 10:36 AM
@Lizzy. Citizen's Advice might be able to help you with individual information. We do not have details of your benefits etc so cannot really say.
AReturnToWork - 12-May-15 @ 11:33 AM
I have not worked for nearly 5 years after a Virol Infection summer 2010, then being diagnosed with CFS/ME December 2012.I am now 62 but would like to get a small part time job and get be back into society.Not sure how or what it would mean to my benefits.
Lizzy - 6-May-15 @ 9:47 AM
@diane. How long were you off work? What kind of work is it?Are you unable to drive etc? Sorry, you've not really given enough information.
AReturnToWork - 20-Apr-15 @ 12:17 PM
I gave notice to my employer that I would be returning to work in 2 weeks time,he hasn't arranged a driving assessment so I cant go back to my place of work, he has said I can take holiday or go to a different centre to work as an escort to the passengers, he said he cant put me in the other centre near to me . he has asked me to go to his office at 10 o clock Monday morning to do some forms but he hasn't said where I am working in the afternoon or the rest of the week ,I feel stressed and feel this cant be right I thought management were supposed to help the best they can to make my return to work as less stressful as possible any advice please help I don't know my rights
diane - 17-Apr-15 @ 6:39 PM
I have talked to many who do wait until benefits expire.however there are some of us who were at the mercies of medical doctors and technology to get answers and some treatment. Unfortunately, sometimes it takes years and years. So tell the self proclaimed expert he doesn't know everything or even 1 percent of everything so he needs to shut up his cake hole.
drgm - 20-Nov-13 @ 1:00 AM
John seems to be suggesting that staff who are off sick, long term or otherwise. are swinging the lead and are exaggerating their illness. It's so depressing that some with allegedly 40 years experience managing staff has no experience of people (who may have been diagnosed very late with a chronic illness,) and who are genuinely very ill. need a long recovery time.He seems to think they could somehow manage at work if only the got their acts to together and stopped being lazy. As someone who has been on the receiving end of a similar experience, I think criminals are treated better in the UK then people who have the misfortune to become unwell, sad to say.
Kate - 21-Oct-13 @ 12:02 PM
In my experience of return to work after sickness is that people return to work when there sick pay runs out most proberly will not be fit enough to work, but it's the money making them go back also so called experienced managing staff as above.
Ron - 30-Apr-13 @ 8:00 AM
My husband was diagnosed with leukemia 2 years ago and is now at the point of looking for work again.How do you go about answering the question of "reason for leaving" on an application w/o telling them exactlly why you weren't working.We are having a hard time finding work and with this illness it is not helping him find a job.Any ideas of what to write?
jkh - 7-Nov-12 @ 11:53 AM
In my 40 years experience of managing staff I can categorically state that the biggest influence on how quickly people return to work is whether they are being paid or not. Its really surprising how quickly they recover when their pay stops.
John - 26-Feb-12 @ 11:22 PM
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