Are You Off Work?

Last reviewed on 16/02/2015 09:26

This page gives details on how you can find help to return to work if you're off work with an illness or injury.

Quick links:

Your employer

Make sure your employer knows that you want to return to work. If they know you have a serious illness or injury, they may assume that you don’t want to, or can’t work. Let them know that you'd like to return to work, and discuss with them what changes might be needed to allow you to do this.

You might think that you can’t do your job, but you may have rights to seek adjustments to your workplace to help you do your job despite your illness or injury. This could mean adjusting tasks to suit your new situation or changing working hours.

The Equality Act 2010 places duties on employers to help people stay in work if they become injured or develop a health condition, including cancers and mental health problems.

Where it’s not possible for you to do the job you used to do, you may still have rights to be accommodated in a different position with equal status with the same employer and at the same rate of pay.

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Further information on returning to work after illness or injury

Jobcentre Plus

Your local Jobcentre Plus can advise both you and your employer on how you can be helped to return to work. Find your local Jobcentre Plus (external site)

Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC)

The EHRC advises on issues around disability, including disability discrimination and employment rights for people with disabilities and health conditions. The EHRC also has much useful information available to download or order.

You can call the EHRC Scotland Helpline on 0845 604 5510 or Textphone 0845 604 5520, from 9am - 5pm Monday to Friday. Visit the EHRC website (external site) for more information.

National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence

View Managing long-term sickness absence and incapacity for work, a resource from National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence.

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Your questions

Answer to an Adviceline question on returning to work after an injury.


I’ve been off work for two weeks with a sore back, not as a result of an accident but I have been struggling for a few weeks now since my employer changed my job. I work in a small warehouse and I’m now doing a lot more lifting than I did in my old job.


Your employer should make sure that risk assessments have been carried out for the manual handling activities you are carrying out. They should look at ways to reduce any risks from manual handling activities. You have discussed this with your GP and he has suggested you call us for a referral to Working Health Services Scotland.

This service can offer you access to a range of services that could offer you support and assistance in getting back to work. If you agree, we can take your details and pass them on to a local case manager who can assess your needs and possible onward referral to services such as physiotherapy or other help that could speed up your recovery and return to work.

Working Health Services offers any employee in an SME access to local services to assist them back to work, including a tailored approach that could include physiotherapy, occupational therapy and counselling. We could also offer your employer a free workplace visit to assist them in carrying out the manual handling risk assessment and advise on any other occupational health and safety issues related to the workplace.

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