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When should you return to work after an injury?

Getting hurt at work can rattle your confidence and motivation for doing your job. Depending on the severity of your injury, you may suffer from ongoing anxiety, triggered by the thought of returning to work.

Because it is such a big decision to reenter the workforce after an injury, knowing the right time to make this move may improve your chances of a smooth transition.

Physical healing

The type of injury you have plays a major role in the amount of time you cannot work. Minor injuries may only take a few days or weeks to recover from. You might even have the option of working through your recovery. However, significant injuries could impact your mobility and even result in temporary or permanent disability. In these situations, your recovery could span several weeks or even months. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, the longer you spend away from work, the greater your chances of not returning at all.

Perhaps the most important rule of thumb to remember is that you often do not need to make a full recovery before you can start working again. Once you reach a point where your healing is substantial enough, you can probably work with necessary modifications.

Employer support

Determining the best time to return to work will require the input of your medical team and your employer. Your doctors probably have a minimum level of healing you need to achieve prior to returning to work. Meanwhile, your employer probably has their own list of expectations before they will allow you to come back. From the onset of your recovery, communicate regularly with your employer and express your desire to return to work. Learn about your options for telecommuting, working with modifications or even taking temporarily switching roles as you recover.

Your employer may provide a return-to-work program as part of your workers’ compensation benefits. This valuable resource can facilitate a successful return and improve your motivation to begin working again. Whenever you chose to start working again, take advantage of the help and continue to have the patience to allow your body to achieve optimal recovery.

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