The purpose of workplace rehabilitation of sick employees is to support individuals and encourage them to re-enter the workplace as soon as their health permits.

Studies have shown that work is good for an individual’s health and well-being. Individuals who have been on sick leave and are returning to work can experience an increase in self-esteem, an improvement in general and mental health, and reduced psychological distress.

Departments are required to refer cases to the CSOHD after 4 weeks of absence for workplace rehabilitation. They may refer absences earlier than 4 weeks, particularly if the absence is attributed to work or following special leave. CSOHD provides advice on any work modifications / interventions to facilitate early return to work.

An employee may be seen by either a doctor or a nurse. This may involve a face to face consultation or a telephone consultation. A medical report on medical fitness and any measures required to facilitate rehabilitation is provided to the case referral manager, whilst maintaining full medical confidentiality.

During a long term absence, a CSOHD referral is only one component of successful workplace rehabilitation. Circular 12/2023 requires both management and the employee to maintain regular proactive contact with each other. When the employee returns to work, a return to work interview is usually done to help reintegration and rehabilitation.

Repeated short term absences are managed primarily by line management with the support of human resources / personnel. Management first meet with the employee to discuss their frequent sick leave prior to any CSOHD referral. If absences are attributed to a medical condition, then a referral to the CSOHD may be indicated.

The longer an individual is out of work, the less likely their chances are of successfully resuming work. Therefore employees should be encouraged to consider a gradual return to work as soon as they are fit to do so. An employee’s job may require temporary modification so that any ongoing symptoms can be managed at work eg ergonomic assessment of their workstation.

Please note that the CMO’s Office has no role in adjudicating or advocating in regard to workplace disputes or work location transfers. These are a management issue.