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 automatically refer all cases to the CSOHD after 4 weeks of absence for workplace rehabilitation. This is non-discretionary. 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, and the consultation may be Face to Face or conducted as a Telephone Consultation. Please note that the decision on whether a consultation is in person or over the telephone lies with the CSOHD doctor or nurse. Certain types of referral can only be seen Face to Face. 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.

Please note that the CSOHD is not involved in decisions around location of work, such as Working From Home (WFH) versus Working Onsite, or transfers from one location to another. It is for management to determine an individuals location of work, based on their business needs.

During a long term absence, a CSOHD referral is only one component of successful workplace rehabilitation. The current Civil Service Management of Sick Leave Circular 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 an ongoing chronic 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.

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.