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Returning to work after injury or illness: Be prepared

When you have taken a leave of absence from your job due to illness or injury, the prospect of returning to work can be both excited and frustrating. Chances are that you are still recovering from whatever workplace accident, illness or other circumstance led you to take a leave of absence in the first place.

You may not yet feel like you are completely up to the task. Or you may feel anxious to dive back in again but others are worried that you are pushing yourself too hard, too fast. Whatever your unique situation is, it is important to properly prepare yourself before returning to work.

First, you must be prepared for the possibility that your employer will not greet your return in the ways you might hope. Far too many employers treat legitimate leaves of absence as excuses to dismiss, demote or otherwise retaliate against workers out of fear, anxiety about the business or anger. It is important to understand that should your employer behave this way upon your return, the law likely protects you from such treatment. If you are facing an unwelcome return in any of these ways, please consult the advice of an experienced attorney.

Second, it is important to know your limits at this point in time. The National Safety Council estimates that American employees lose 55 million days of productive work as a result of work-related injuries alone. Another 255 million days of work are lost due to injuries which develop outside of work. In order to ensure that you return to work and do not re-injure yourself, it is imperative that you understand what your physical limits are and honor them.

Source: Home Channel News, "Getting employees back to work after illness or injury takes preparation," Donna M. Owens, Nov. 14, 2012

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