Phased Return

Well, it’s about time I went back to work.

I’ve been off for 8 months - 8 months I can’t believe it! Sometimes it seems like an age, other times it feels like it’s only been 2 weeks.

I have a meeting with my manager this week to discuss a phased return.

My job is a desk job, so its not physically demanding (apart from a bit of a drive to get there), but it is very busy. Multi-tasking is the key!

I asked my doctor how many hours I should do, but he basically said whatever you feel, and that he would sign me off accordingly. But I’m not sure! Part of me just wants to get on and do it (that whole getting back to normal thing) but I know that I get tired so much more easily. I’m just not as fit as I was and get varies aches and pains from the tamoxifen. I don’t want to rush into it and end up stressing myself out and taking more time off. But I do feel guilty for being off so long, and leaving my colleagues in the lurch!

I wanted to ask how you did your phased return?

How many days a week did you do, how many hours etc?

Over what period of time did you get back to your normal hours?

Hi Pangapanga,

I’ve had a slightly different experience from you in that I went back to work for a couple of months after my surgery and then stopped again for rads. That second time off then got extended a couple of times and stretched to 2.5 months as I found the whole experience caught up with me and I was physically very tired and emotionally very down.

I started back in mid-April on a phased return, with 3 shorter days per week and gradually increased and aimed for 100% by the beginning of June. After the first full week in June, I had a major meltdown on a routine visit to my GP and he signed me off again completely for 2 weeks. I’m now back again trying to do another phased return.

You may be much better than me, but 8 months is a long time to be off and it would be a shock to your system even if you hadn’t had a major illness in that time. My advice would be to start small and slowly increase. If you do shorter days, make yourself go home at the agreed time even if you don’t think you’re tired. Remember you still have your home commitments to achieve either side of work and you will find your energy disappears as you get home simply because you relax. The trick is to pace yourself, but it is difficult and I didn’t get it right and ended up off sick again.

As well as the hours adjustment, is there anything else they can let you do like work from home sometimes? Your doctor can stipulate this on the fit note along with anything else that you think would help you get back to full time whilst protecting your recovery.

Good luck and post back news about how you’re getting on.

E xx

Hi - good luck with your return. I’ve been off a year now and intend going back in Spetember (when eth insurance money runs out!) but my recovery was delayed substantially by picking up infections during and after chemo which had me wheel chair bound, hence the extra time I’m taking.

Already ‘negotiating’ my RTW plan - or my union friend is. I will be working from home cos of my depression making the open plan workplace very unfriendly for me, and cos I’m in IT it’s easy to do my work from home. Looking at a 13 week phased return, starting with 5 hours a week and increasing to 35 over the interim period - an extra few hours here and then an extra day and gradually building up.

The key is shout if it’s getting too much even when it’s been agreed. If you persevere and strugg;e you’re doing no-one any favours, least of all yourself. You also need, as well as reduced hours, to settle back in on some reduced pressure more routine work, else you’re setting your self up to fail. Most employers will understand this - some more readily than others.

I was off work for 8 months and had a phased return. Before BC I worked 4 days a week but on my return I dropped a day and worked 3.5 hrs a day for the first two weeks, 4.5 hrs on week three increasing by an hour a week until I got up to 7.5 hrs a day. The first couple of weeks on 7.5 days were quite difficult as I was so tired but 6 weeks later I dont feel so bad. I wasn’t sure if I was going to return to work at one point but I’m glad I did as it brings a normality back into my life plus I missed all the gossip!!

I was of for 6 months - I have a mainly desk bound job as a school secretary. My headteacher was very good at sorting out a phased return. I normally work 4 days, 8.30 - 4. I went back during the 2nd week of radiotherapy at the end of April. The first 2 weeks I worked Tuesday and Thursday afternoons, for just 2 hours each time. Then I built up gradually to 3 part days, and at the moment I am at 3 full days, Monday, Wednesday, Friday. I am staying on those days until school goes back in September, when I will go back up to four days. I am still on full pay. I was due to go to half pay which is why I went back when I did.

I have enjoyed being back at work most of the time, apart from problems I having with the other secretary. She has really not coped whilst I was out nd keeps reminding me of everything she had to do whilst I was out (even though the head paid other people to cover my job), she is constantly checking up on what I am doing and is insisting I tell her everything I do. I am trying to be patient but finding it very hard.