Going Back to Work after Illness or Injury

Posted on Thursday, January 6, 2022 by The Workplace AdvisorNo comments

38.8 million working days are lost each year due to illness or injury. This big news is problematic in many ways, but an mostly ignored aspect of it is how those who’ve come out of the workforce due to significant illness or injury get back into it again. It’s a daunting time, life can feel very different, and you’re left facing questions about whether to be honest with future employers, or whether you can even do the same job again.

At our London recruitment agency, we often help people who’ve been out of the workplace due to illness or injury get back into work that is meaningful and rewarding.

Your rights

The Equality Act 2010 protects you if your illness or injury has resulted in disability. However, for many people, this doesn’t apply. But using the principles of the Equality Act in relation to disabilities can help you decide what to do.

Should you explain the employment gap on your CV?

You don’t have to put details of your illness or injury on your CV. However, a gap will raise questions, so it may be best to address it. A simple statement can be helpful, for example: “I was unable to work during this time due to significant health concerns, which are now resolved.” What you want to do is avoid suspicion that your health issues will make you an unreliable or ineffective employee.

Depending on the length of your absence from work, you may be able to prevent an overt gap on your CV by using years rather than specific dates when listing your history. However, in our experience, it is best to be honest and spin your experience to show your positive attributes. It can help to show that your career aspirations didn’t stop with your ill health. For example, you could say, “I was off work from X to Y recovering from a road traffic accident. During my recovery I took an online course in office management.”

What about ongoing health concerns and symptoms?

Again, if your situation is classified as a disability, then the Equality Act is relevant. Remember that you do not have to disclose any ongoing problems to a prospective employer, but they have a duty of care to their employees and cannot make adjustments to your workplace if they don’t know that you are struggling. 

It’s understandable that you may not want to put the details on your CV—however, if you’ve been invited to an interview, the employer is very interested in your application. Face to face, it may be easier to discuss the gap in your employment history and how it may impact future employment. This enables you to take ownership of your experience. As a London recruitment agency, hiring managers value this honesty and are usually willing to accommodate the candidates they want with proposed solutions.

Starting a new job

It’s to be expected that after a period of time away from a job due to illness or injury, going back will feel daunting. Being prepared for this can help you adjust. You may find that you tire more easily, think your skills are out of date, or feel that some of your identity was lost because of your health concerns. 

Remember that this is very normal and mirrors many women’s experiences of returning to work after maternity leave. 

You may find it helpful to work fewer hours, speak to occupational health, or ask your healthcare provider for extra check-ins. Remember that your health should be your priority.

Honesty is usually the best policy. Having a recruitment agency in your corner whilst you navigate this change can really help. Get in touch on 020 7870 7177.


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