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Wednesday, 3 October 2012

How work can keep you healthy

Work can help you stay healthy and be good for your family. Find out how work can be good for you, steps you can take to stay in work if you are unwell and how to get back to work after time off.

Work - the effects on your health

Work is an important way to financially support yourself and your family (if you have one). Working can also help you to keep healthy by:

  • making you feel better about yourself and the prospects for you and your family
  • keeping you fit and healthy - physically and mentally
  • keeping up social connections – many people make friends at work

Studies show that work is generally good for both your physical and mental health and may help you recover from illness and injury. Follow the link below to see a summary of one of the studies about how working could be good for your health.

Effects of being out of work

If you are out of work, your health could be affected because you are more likely to:

  • have increased financial pressures
  • be less active, physically and mentally

If you aren’t working, this may have a damaging effect on the health of your family – they may become affected by stress and anxiety.

Risks to health – what to do

Some work may cause risks to health and if you are worried about your work you should speak to your employer and doctor.

Staying at work if you are ill or injured

If you are ill or have an injury, you might not need to take sickness leave if you are still able to do your job (or at least part of it). Doing some work should help keep you active and will usually be good for your health in the long run. Talk with your manager about:

  • how your condition affects your ability to work
  • what you can and can’t do
  • how you could stay at work by, for example, changing your hours or your work tasks

Staying at work - advice from your doctor

Speak to your GP to get advice about:

  • how your condition may affect you
  • the treatment you need
  • changes at work to help you stay or return while you recover completely

Your doctor can provide this advice on your fit note, which you can show to your employer. Follow the link below to find out what’s in the fit note.

Taking time off when you are ill or injured

If you are working and you get ill or injured, you may need to take time off.

Video - Joe's story

Watch 'Joe's story' to see what can happen if stress isn't dealt with

Returning to work in stages

Your doctor may advise you that you could benefit by returning to work in stages if you have been off sick for a long time. You could return in stages by doing different duties or working shorter hours.

If you agree to work fewer hours, talk to your employer about how and whether you will be paid. This will depend on your contract of employment and how long you have been off work.

Recovering from illness and getting back to work

As part of your recovery and making arrangements to return to work, you should:

  • talk to your manager about helping you back to work
  • get advice from your doctor
  • think about talking to friends and family to get support

Talking to your manager

If you are off sick and recovering from an illness or injury it’s important to stay in touch with work. Letting work know how you are doing will help your manager and your colleagues plan your work and that of your team.

You don’t need to wait until you are about to go back – start discussing your return and any changes you need early on in your recovery.

 You could discuss things with your manager and:

  • if you feel ready, suggest doing work at home, other tasks or shorter hours while recovering
  • talk to your occupational health adviser at work (health experts who help people keep working or return to work after illness or injury)

You and your employer can get advice and support with extra costs involved from the Access to Work scheme – provided your condition affects how you do your job.

Advice from your doctor

If you are considering taking time off to recover from illness or injury, it’s important to talk to your doctor. They can advise you on what treatment you need and about keeping active. Your doctor can give you advice in a fit note on what might help you return to work.

Support from your friends and family

Try talking to your family, friends or partner about returning to work. They may be able to help you get over problems you have, like:

  • transport to and from work
  • worries about returning to work after being off sick for a long time

Returning to work if you are on long-term sickness benefits

If you are on long-term sickness benefits, it may also help your health to do some part-time or voluntary work. If you do some work while claiming sickness benefits, your claim may be affected. You should talk about this to your Jobcentre Plus personal adviser.

Follow the link below to find out what the rules are about working when claiming sickness benefits.

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