Assisting an employee through the return to work process after a leave of absence for a mental illness is a delicate and challenging job. How much information to share, what accommodations need to be made, who needs to be involved in the planned return, and how coworkers react are just a few of the challenges. Having a solid plan in place for the return to work (RTW) process is a valuable tool for any work environment.
The Institute for Work and Health, a Canadian based not-for-profit organization published an evidence-informed guide regarding supporting people with depression to return to the workplace. This guide could easily be used and adapted to individual work place processes and is available for that purpose. Having a process that is established and easily put into place will assist everyone in the return to work for that employee.
Below, we’ve highlighted some important parts of the guide that can be used and adapted as you help manage individuals through the return to work process.
The RTW plan should involve the worker, the union (if applicable), the manager, and the HR person. The RTW process will have a higher success rate if genuine and caring communication is the norm when the worker goes off work - caring, respectful check-ins and messages of support are very impactful.
Prior to the return, a meeting should be scheduled to discuss and implement the plan. Holding a pre-RTW meeting to develop and outline a return-to-work plan that everyone is comfortable with should involve the worker, direct manager/supervisor, HR staff, and any other involved parties such as a union representative (if applicable) or a disability case manager.
Several steps must be considered for the RTW plan to be successful:
As the demands for systemized policies to assist workers in returning to work increase, this guide could be very useful for managers looking to institute such policies.
More information can be viewed at: