Returning to Work After a MSK-related Absence: Key Considerations for Employers and Employees

By Claire Glynn | Head of Musculoskeletal Services

Returning to work after a musculoskeletal (MSK) related absence can be a pivotal moment for both employees and employers.

Returning to work after a musculoskeletal (MSK) related absence can be a pivotal moment for both employees and employers. It’s a transition that requires careful planning, communication, and support to ensure a smooth reintegration into the workplace while prioritising the health and well-being of the employee. In this article, we’ll explore the essential considerations for both employers and employees when navigating this critical phase.

1. Open Communication:

Establishing open channels of communication between the employee, their healthcare provider, and the employer is crucial. This ensures that all parties are aware of the employee’s condition, limitations, and any accommodations or adjustments needed upon their return.

PAM Physio Solutions encourages employees to communicate their needs and concerns openly. By fostering a supportive environment where they feel comfortable discussing their MSK condition and its impact on their work, we offer treatment support to help educate employees on management, treatment, and prevention.

2. Individualised Return-to-Work Plan:

PAM Physio Solutions work with the employee and to develop a customised return-to-work plan tailored to their specific needs and capabilities.

This plan outlines a gradual reintroduction to work duties, modifications to tasks or the work environment if necessary, and provisions for ongoing support and monitoring.

3. Education and Training:

PAM Physio Solutions provide education and training to both employees and managers about MSK conditions, including common symptoms, management strategies, and ergonomic practices to prevent exacerbation or recurrence of injuries.

By equipping managers with the knowledge and resources to support employees effectively during their return to work, including how to accommodate any necessary adjustments or modifications.

We also advise on HSE-compliance and carry out risk assessments to ensure all legal obligations are met to support employee’s wellbeing in the workplace.

4. Flexible Work Arrangements:

Considering flexible work arrangements such as modified schedules, remote work options, or temporary job modifications to accommodate the employee’s needs during their transition back to work allows the employee to build their confidence after longer periods of absence.

Flexibility can help alleviate stress and facilitate a smoother return to full productivity, allowing the employee to gradually increase their workload as they regain strength.

5. Access to Occupational Health Services:

Ensure you have access to occupational health services, including physiotherapy, ergonomic assessments, and counselling, to support employees in managing their MSK condition effectively while at work.

PAM Physio Solutions offer flexible packages that suite the needs of your business, empowering your employees and management to tackle MSK issues at the earliest opportunity.

Proactively promoting these services and encouraging employees to utilise them as needed allows them to access support and educate themselves to prevent further injury.

6. Supportive Work Environment:

Foster a supportive work environment that promotes understanding, empathy, and inclusivity towards employees with MSK conditions.

Encourage team members to offer assistance and accommodations when appropriate, fostering a culture of collaboration and support within the workplace.

Returning to work after an MSK-related absence can present challenges for both employees and employers, but with careful planning, communication, and support, it can also be an opportunity for growth and resilience. By prioritising open communication, individualised support, education, flexibility, access to occupational health services, and a supportive work environment, employers can help facilitate a successful return to work for employees while promoting their health, wellbeing, and productivity in the long term.

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