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Phased returns

Many people have heard of phased returns.  Their entire purpose is to help people back to work as part of their recovery.

What is a phased return?

Phased returns are a helpful tool that helps people return to their roles after an extended period of absence. Suppose you have been off long-term sick (over 28 days). In that case, you and your Manager can agree on a phased approach to your regular working hours and duties over a reasonable period without needing guidance from your GP, provided you and your Manager feel it is practical.

When do I need one?

In some instances, following a period of sickness absence, individuals’ GPs can make specific recommendations on a fit note. These could relate to working arrangements, such as reduced working hours (increased as their return progressed) and implementing ergonomic recommendations (such as special seating).

You and your Manager can also agree to help you back to work sooner when you are still in the recovery process but can carry out part of your role or perhaps all of it for a shorter period than your contractual hours.

What if my Manager disputes my fit note?

In some cases, individual line managers have disputed the GP’s recommendations, stating that these were not compatible with business needs. However, in the case of  GP guidance, no manager can overrule these as they are not medically qualified to comment on a diagnosis made by a doctor. Furthermore, a manager could inadvertently worsen an individual’s medical condition by ignoring a GP’s recommendations in effecting these specific recommendations.

If managers genuinely believe they cannot make any adjustments, they must involve professional guidance from an occupational health specialist to review the GP fit note. As part of that support, this may also include changing your working hours for a limited period.

If you have difficulty obtaining the support you need in implementing medical recommendations as part of your return to work, in the first instance, don’t hesitate to contact the Advance union office on 01442 891122 in complete confidence.

Do I automatically get a phased return if I’m off for more than 28 days?

Many people return without a need to phase back in. It is fair to say the individual will not need one in some instances, but if you feel this may help you back sooner, you should discuss it with your Manager. If you do not have a phased return fit note offered by your GP, your Manager can still agree phased return, and you should discuss this with them to decide on an approach.

How long can a phased return last?

The company will pay you a full salary while you are on a phased return for up to three months if this is required. In some instances, recovery time frames are longer and whilst the company may not pay you your full salary, they need to consider if they can accommodate a longer phased return. These cases are rare, and if you find yourself in this position, don’t hesitate to contact Advance union on 01442 891122, so we can agree on a way forward for you to continue your role.