Back to work - phased


I was wondering- when I return back to work I have been told by my consultant to go back phased. What options some of you put to your companies and what has the overall outcome been (their comments etc), I was thinking about starting 2 mornings a week but not sure how to build up to full time.

Your comments would be appreciated good and bad

When I return, hopefeully end July. I am prob going to do mornings for about a month, but have been told if its too much we can re-assess,Also as it can take 45 mins -1 hour,putting poss 2 hours on my working day they are looking to re-locate me nearer to home.
I have heard, don’t know if its true that its best to get GP to put phased return on sick note.

Take Care


Your employer should really do a ‘return to work’ interview with you and the question of a phased return to work should be covered in that. I’m aware that not all employers do this (depends on size of company etc) but it helps to make it clear not only to you but also your employer on what you can and can’t do when you first return to work and work it out between the two of you how long the phased return should last.

Good luck.


I started back to work 3 weeks ago on a phased return. I originally worked 19 hours on 2.5 days but went back for only 2 hours on 3 days. I am doing 3 hours per day next week. This was my managers idea as I was willing to do more hours, but I was glad as I was more tired than I expected. I work for a large company in a dept with lots of people doing the same thing so I was not being relied upon, so it does depend on the size of your company and your job etc.
I know that you should be covered under the disability act and its the law to offer you a phased return ( I think ).
I would try to do the shortest hours possible at the beginning because you will be tired.
Best of luck Andrea x

I started doing 2 half days a week but in the middle of the day to avoid the traffic. Then 3 half days. I have decided that I don’t want to work full time any more so have remained on 3 days and have increased the hours on those days gradually each week. As I am having Herceptin, I have that on one of the days I don’t work.
Good luck. Don’t overdo it and if you feel tired you should say so. (I am good at giving others advice but not so good at acting on it myself!)
A phased return is one of the suggestions of a reasonable adjustment under the DDA but it isn’t actually a requirement.
All the best

Hi Tinfish,
Its worth reading a previous thread on the ‘living with breast cancer’ section second ‘page’ thread 21 ‘scarred to go back to work’ started by Andrea68 really useful and it helped me a lot.
I’ve started a phased return this week haveing gone straight back in a month ago which didn’t work out. I teach 3 days a week in a nusery class in hackney and travel each way by tube. This week I am working until 1 p.m. next week 2p.m. so I get a seat going home. The following week I will stay at school until 4 then leave so will not stay for the evening staff meeting. This plan was put into place after reading Andreas postings. Have met with the head and will keep her informed as to how things are going - best to keep channels of communication open.
Also went for a meeting at ‘Occupational health’ really useful and you can refer yourself.
Didn’t have cheme just 3 weeks of rads following a mastectomy but still really tired and tucked up in bed by 9.30 on work days.
Hope you find some of this useful

Magsi x

Hi Ladies

Thanks so much for your input your employers sound good

Pinkdove: when should you hear form your HR department my current certificate runs out 10th May (not sure if my consultant will sign me off longer) I havent heard much from my HR only to tell me that they werent paying me and that I should go on incapacity benefit.,

Hi tinfish,

I have recently been in a tribunal and the company argued that as my GP hadn’t put"phased return" on my certificate; then they didn’t have to put it in place. And the judge agreed with them.

But maybe that was only the judge that I had, maybe another one would say different

Good luck on your returning to work


Hi tinfish,
I went back to work mid march after 10 months off, i had wle, chemo & rads. I work 33-37.5hrs week, i met with occ health who said i had to have a phased return & my gp advised this too. I met with my manager and we did a return to work schedule, nothing too heavy and just 9hrs the first week split over 3 days. I felt better than expected to, not as tired as i thought i might and really enjoyed seeing everyone again & the relief that i could still do my job well was lovely. I’ve now been back 5 weeks and just gradually built up to nearer the 33hrs for my last week, but i’ve still got the agreement with my manager that if i have an off day i can take some annual leave we’ve carried over from last year. I took the day off a few weeks ago for my first check mammo as i wasn’t sure what kind of emotional state i’d be in and work requires full attention. My occ health nurse said best to start slow and feel you could have done more than feel overtired and wished you’d done less, good advice i think. So take it easy & before long you’ll probably feel like you’ve never been away!
Wishing you all the best,
Rivergirl x

Hi tinfish

If you haven’t heard from them by now I would approach them and request that you want a return to work interview.

I used to be an HR Manager before having to give it up due to mets and I used to set that in place for anyone who had been off work for a certain amount of time to cover both the employee and us on what they were able to do and what we could do to help ease them back into work.

Good luck.


Hi all

interested to hear if anyone has been referred to an occupational health service through work. I work in a school office and have been off work since last July. Lumpectomy, chemo and rads, now on herceptin every 3 weeks. Tried to do 2 days a week last month but fell apart after second week and my gp signed me off for another 2 weeks. Due to go back to work for 2 days a week next week and my boss has said she’s referring me to occupational Health. Not sure what to expect and have a feeling she thinks I’m a liability!

Hi Jordan

I work in the NHS and it is standard that we are referred to occi Health after 6 weeks off. It is really for your safety to check that you are okay to go back so soon and what you can and can’t do eg I am unable to lift heavy boxes. I think its good to go to occi Health as they are on your side and want whats best for you.


Hi Jordan,
I teach and was referred to occupational health by the Head, I was very apprehensive about going and initailly must have come across as quite defensive. I thought I had to try and prove that I was fit to work.
They were really suportive and are very much ‘on your side’ giving you support and advice about what you should be doing at work in terms of hours, lifting etc. Going back for a review next week. A report gets sent to you and to your employer. It was read to me first and checked before being sent and has set down the time I should leave work and stresses that I must take my full lunch hour etc.
It really feels like support behind me, hope you find it so as well.
Magsi x

hi magsi and mandy

Thanks for your comments. I feel reassured now about my return to work next week. It will be good to have someone on my side.

Hi Jordan

Hope it goes really well for you next week Jordan. I only work 3 days a week as I job share and next week will be working until 2.
I came home last week at 1 absolutely shattered and I only had a mastectomy and rads not chemo like you - so take it easy won’t you - lots of early nights!!

magsi x


I went to see the breast nurse Friday and there seems to be a long wait, my consultant wants to sign me off until after recon but if thats going to be another 4 months or so I think I may have to go back to work. I am getting an appointment either this week or next to see the consultant but if she doesnt sign me off it doesnt leave me any time to arrange my phased back to work (times etc) any suggestions

When you went back phased did you decide the hours you were working or did your companies?

Hi Tinfish

Does your consultant think you are okay to go back to work in between waiting for your reconstruction?

A phased return to work should be something that is decided and agreed between you and your employer and put down in writing that this has been agreed and for how long it will be.

Good luck.


Hi Pinkdove

I am waiting for an appointment to see the consultant but going by what has been said in the past and due to the type of work I do she said she has no problem signing me off. I told her I would feel better to go back after the reconstruction is done (vanity I surpose) and she agreed but I will find out once I have seen her, as I said previously my HR dept dont contact me, they phoned once and wanted to see me 2 days after chemo and my husband spoke to them firmly explaining the facts about chemo etc (he wasnt nasty) but they have only contacted me once since then to say they wouldnt be paying me and for me to start the process going to get incapacity benefit (that was in March) and I had already started to put the process in order. I dont know weither to contact them in writing expalining that when I do return I want to come back phased or to want until I see the consultant but if that isnt until next week my certificate runs out 10th March so that doesnt give me or them much time to arrange my return. I also have a hospital appointment on 12th MArch in London re: genetic history!!! its a right mess

I can sympathise with you Tinfish - it’s made more complicated isn’t it because of your forthcoming reconstruction.

I don’t think it would harm writing to them saying that you’ve been advised to have a phased return to work and when you think that will be and that you look forward to hearing from them.

I went for genetic testing last June and still haven’t heard yet whether I’ve got one of the faulty genes so am leaving it til this June and then I’ll contact them again. I’ve got a strong family history but whether it’s genetic or not is a different matter!

Good luck.



I am seeing the consultant on Wednesday and my BC nurse seems to think I will be signed off again, I still very tired etc and my consultant has said in the past she isnt keen to sign me back before I am ready and that there is no rush. I have been off since August so getting back will be hard, I saw a councellor and she is going to see me again in May to make sure I am strong in the mind to return back when the time comes.

Re: genetic tersting, I was tested last time I had BC (14 years ago) and the results came back negative but my local hospital have done the family tree and they still want me to go to the London hospital to see if any other tests can be done!!

pinkdove: it takes a while to get results but I would chase them up. thanks for your input it has been realy helpful