Rehabilitation frequently asked questions

We've put together some commonly asked questions to give you more information about our Rehabilitation services.

I have an employee who appears to be struggling in work – what do I do?

Have you or their line manager enabled a private 121 with them to explore why they appear to be having issues - as that is usually the best start. If they have a physical issue, and you have an Occupational health provision they should be able to advise you on the best course of action. If you don’t have direct access to Occupational Health (OH) support, you could consider writing to the employee’s GP, obviously with their consent, to seek their advice. You could also source an external occupational health provider for an independent assessment who could provide help and advice for your employee and yourselves.

If they are struggling with work place issues (such as work related stress) then Health & Safety Executive (HSE) and ACAS have lots of helpful information about dealing with this type of situation. If your employee has Personal stress related issues, then speaking to your Employee Assistance Programme (EAP) may be helpful. If you don’t have an EAP, it could be worth allowing the employee some flexitime to ensure they have time to consult their GP for assessment and possible referral for treatment, alternatively if they have access to private medical treatment they could access that.

If there are issues that you think we may be able to help with, please call your dedicated claims manager, they’ll be happy to help.

A GP has suggested our employee is fit for work but we disagree what can we do?

A GP completes ‘fit notes’ according to the needs and wishes of their patient. These are not regulated documents and therefore fitness for work or not is merely advisory. Firstly have a frank and honest conversation with your employee and communicate your concerns, this may help to reassure you. You are at liberty to gain your own medical opinion via Occupational Health (OH), a specialist in understanding the relationship between illness, absence and work. Any differing opinion between the OH and the GP can be sent to the GP for review / comment, (usually the GP will accept the opinion of the OH).

Our employee is displaying unusual behaviours and we are concerned they may be inappropriate to clients?

You say that their behaviours are ‘unusual’ presumably this is something that is out of character for your employee. They may be experiencing pressures and/or stressors or may be experiencing a mental health illness that needs assessing and treatment. Firstly explore with your employee their personal view of their wellbeing, this will identify their awareness and insight into how they are behaving. Explain what you have observed and share your concerns. Request that they visit their GP or arrange for an Occupational Health assessment. On a practical level, reduce risk to the individual and the business by increasing supervision and support and possibly removing any sensitive tasks or business deals.

I have an employee and am unsure if I need to refer them to Occupational Health or to you for claims and rehabilitation?

Circumstances vary in each individual case but you could call your dedicated case manager who can always confidentially discuss any situations with our rehabilitation team, to determine which avenue may be best to follow and give you some advice.

Our employee is on a Return To Work plan that includes amended duties and reduced hours. They feel they’ll be able to manage their contracted hours but not their normal duties. What do we do?

The Graded Return To Work plan will include both phased working hours and temporary adjustments to duties. We generally advise that the line manager has a weekly review with the employee to discuss work tasks and it is in this meeting that discussions regarding taking back on increasingly complex/demanding work should take place.

The intention is for an employee to take on increasing amounts of their usual role. If this is not the case and the employee is unable to do this then please contact the Rehabilitation Consultant involved who will arrange a conference call between all parties to discuss the reasons for this. If there is no identifiable way forward an Occupational Health assessment might be appropriate to obtain specific advice and guidance. If you don’t have Occupational Health provision, you may need to source and arrange an independent Occupational Health assessment. Organisations such as COHPA may be able to signpost you to an appropriate provider.

I am hoping to return to work - can your rehab team help me in this?

That’s great news! Supporting people back to work who are covered by our policy, is something we can help with. However, you do need to discuss this with either your HR or Line manager and they can explore this for you and if needed, involve us.

I am currently on a return to work plan but it is not going well and I am struggling what do you suggest?

We are sorry to learn that you are not coping so well. Who helped construct the plan, was it your employer, an Occupational Health representative, one of our rehabilitation consultants? The first thing is to identify in what way are you struggling? Is it the hours, the workload, the people? Then discuss your concerns, (and possible solutions), with the person / team that developed your plan - communication and honesty is the key here.

My GP has placed me on a wait list for NHS counselling but I am told there is a three month wait – is there anything you can do?

Sometimes, even though there may be a waiting period which is very disappointing, it may be that you do need NHS counselling as the NHS often work closely with your GP and other treating parties, if it’s been determined that you need holistic care.

You may wish to revisit this with your GP and if you have access to an Employee Assistance Programme, you could use this or even seek referral to your own Private medical cover if you have that. You could also consider talking to your HR manager about this if none of these avenues are open to you.

I have been referred for rehab support and understand you’ll work with me and my employer to agree a Return To Work plan. I’m worried that once I’m back at work they’ll ignore it and expect me to work more hours.

We appreciate that this is a real concern for many people and we can assure you that our involvement doesn’t end with the creation of the Graded Return To Work plan. We continue to have regular contact with you, your line manager and HR to review the plan. This ensures that everyone is aware of their responsibilities during this vital period to support and assist you whilst you phase back into work. This support continues for the duration of the plan and sometimes for a few weeks after you return to give you the optimum chance of making a successful return.

I am feeling much better and would like to go back to work but my GP won’t sign me back on as fit to return to work because they don't think I can cope with full time hours.

Your GP will have seen you on a regular basis throughout your sickness absence and they will be understandably protective of you and not want to jeopardise your recovery. We also appreciate that if your GP suggests you’re not ready to return it can make you apprehensive about returning against their advice.

Our rehabilitation team are all experienced health professionals and we are able to work with your GP to overcome this barrier. With your consent we can talk to your GP and explain our role and the support we offer. We can create and share a Graded Return To Work plan, which will provide reassurance that the phasing back in will be slow and carefully monitored. In our experience, once GPs are confident the return will be carefully managed and supported they will be able to provide a fit note stating you may be fit to work phased hours.