What is a return-to-work agreement?

This is an agreement, often in writing, drawn up between you and your employer. You may also have sought advice from your GP, an occupational health (OH) expert and your trade union rep if you have one. It may include:

  • lighter or alternative duties, at least to start with, which have been discussed and agreed with you; 
  • a staged return, e.g. starting with a few hours or days each week, which you have agreed to;
  • practical details, e.g. travel plans, salary level, start and finish times, support from a colleague or mentor at work, training, etc.; and/or
  • a review period, e.g. after a few weeks.

Similarly your GP can issue you with a fit note, formally known as a Statement of Fitness for Work. After your doctor has assessed you for your fitness for work, they will either use the fit note to advise your employer that you are not fit for work or that you may be fit for work as long as the employer follows the advice written on the fit note. The advice can include recommendations for a phased return to work, altered hours, amended duties or workplace adaptations. You only need a fit note from a doctor after seven days off work sick.


Note: This content is provided as general background information and should not be taken as legal advice or financial advice for your particular situation. Make sure to get individual advice on your case from your union, a source on our free help page or an independent financial advisor before taking any action.

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