GLOBAL-WATCH TOOLKIT

Returning to work after a long-term absence

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This Global-Watch Toolkit was created to allow organizations to better assist employees returning to work after a prolonged absence due to a musculoskeletal problem, psychological health reasons, or cancer. It is based on the 6 steps for return to work introduced in Durand et al. (2014), which has received worldwide recognition and has been cited in several countries. This model shows that a common approach to the integrated work-absence management and return to work can apply to workers with musculoskeletal disorders, common mental disorders or cancer, as the principal steps for return to work are similar in all cases.

Comprised of 35 tools, this toolkit is the result of the work and collaboration of scientists, practitioners and insurers in the field, in Canada and Europe. Special mention should be made of the valuable collaboration provided by Professor Marie-José Durand, Ph.D., Professor Marie-France Coutu, Ph.D., and Marie-Andrée Paquette, Ph.D., respectively Director, researcher and research professional at the Université de Sherbrooke’s Centre for Action in Work Disability Prevention and Rehabilitation (CAPRIT) in Quebec, Canada. 

Like the other Global-Watch Toolkits, this one was developed according to the Global-Watch Framework for Intervention which takes an approach to workplace health and well-being that is both systematic (in steps) and systemic (by including all relevant actors in the organization). Thus, by defining the goals and the process, which allow for significant and lasting results, and by mobilizing the different stakeholders, from the strategic level down to the employee level, organizational health is greatly promoted.

The toolkit’s objectives are threefold:

  1. It aims to update the body of knowledge, that is to say, some of its components allow organizations to gain access to relevant, peer-reviewed and recent scientific knowledge on good practices for return to work after a long-term absence for psychological health reasons.
  2. It seeks to facilitate the application of these good practices within organizations in a way that is as structured and effective as possible.
  3. It gives organizations the tools they need to properly intervene in the case of employees returning to work after an absence for psychological health reasons.

Access to the Global-Watch Toolkits is granted according to the membership level. The selection of toolkits available for download for your organization has been made by the person responsible for your Global-Watch membership.

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DESCRIPTION OF EACH TOOL

 

0 – GLOSSARY

This glossary compares the main concepts cited in this toolkit, using their common nomenclature in Canada and Europe. The goal is to promote optimal understanding of the contents presented in this toolkit. You may need to adapt the content to suit the context of your organization.

KNOWLEDGE UPDATING

 

1 – Introduction

This introductory document provides an overview of the questions raised by a return to work after an absence for psychological health reasons, the good practices to encourage, and the conditions facilitating their implementation.

 

2 – 6 steps return to work process

The 6-step return-to-work process is a document that introduces the 6 steps to encourage during the support process for an employee returning to work after an absence for psychological health reasons.

ROLLING OUT GOOD PRACTICES WITHIN THE ORGANIZATION

 

 

3 – Tip sheet to facilitate the roll-out

A tip sheet to facilitate the roll-out of a return-to-work strategy that considers good practices, internal stakeholders and the situation of the organization.

 

4 – Case study

A case study of a Canadian company illustrating the participation and collaboration of various stakeholders in the development of a new internal initiative: a network of peer supporters.

 

5 – Tip sheet to support the development of an organizational policy

A tip sheet to support the development of an organizational policy that governs absence management and accounts for good practices, internal stakeholders and the situation of the organization.

 

ROLLING OUT GOOD PRACTICES WITH MANAGERS

 

 

6 – Executive summary – Canadian version (WORD)

An executive summary (Canadian version) aiming to alert senior management to the importance of implementing good return-to-work practices.

 

7 – Executive summary – European version (WORD)

An executive summary (European version) aiming to alert senior management to the importance of implementing good return-to-work practices.

 

8 – Executive presentation – Canadian version (POWERPOINT)

A PowerPoint presentation (Canadian version) to be presented to senior management and managers, aiming to rally their support for an action plan to roll out a return-to-work strategy.

 

9 – Executive presentation – European version (POWERPOINT)

A PowerPoint presentation (European version) to be presented to senior management and managers, aiming to rally their support for an action plan to roll out a return-to-work strategy.

 

10 – Quick reference guide for managers (WORD)

A quick reference guide providing a list of actions expected of managers (or the occupational health physician) when an employee goes on sick leave for psychological health reasons. Make sure to consult the introduction to this tool first.

ROLLING OUT GOOD PRACTICES WITH EMPLOYEES

 

11 – Tree diagram

A tree diagram to more easily identify employees whose return to work might benefit from greater support

 

12 – First letter to an employee absent over 30 days (WORD)

A document providing the guidelines to follow when writing a letter to an absent employee in order to communicate with them for the first time during their absence

 

13 – Courtesy call guidelines

A document providing the guidelines to follow when making a courtesy call to an absent employee to communicate with them for the first time during their absence

 

14 – Guidelines for informing co-workers

A document providing the guidelines to follow when announcing the absence of an employee to their work co-workers

 

15 – Case study: return-to-work measures put in place for an employee holding a high-level position

A case study of a French company illustrating the return-to-work measures put in place for an employee holding a high-level position

 

16 – Case study : the importance of properly evaluating an employee’s situation

A case study of a Canadian company demonstrating the importance of properly evaluating an employee’s situation when implementing effective return-to-work measures

 

17 – Case study: Factors that can possibly imperil the return-to-work process

A case study of a Canadian company illustrating the factors that can possibly imperil the return-to-work process

ADDITIONAL TOOLS

 

A – Progressive return-to-work support tool

The progressive return-to-work support tool, for people providing support to absent employees who might need a progressive return. The progressive return-to-work planning grid (in an interactive and printable format) is also included. Make sure to consult the guide on how to use the progressive return-to-work support tool first.

 

B – Temporary assignment support tool (in French only)

The temporary assignment support tool, to encourage the practice of temporary assignments and support employers who wish to use it with their employees as part of the return-to-work process. Make sure to consult the introduction to this tool first.

 

C – PDF presentation from Via Rail (in French only)

A PDF presentation illustrating the work-absence management and return-to-work strategy of Via Rail, a Canadian company.

 

D – Brief video with Prof. Marie-José Durand, Ph.D. (in French only)

Marie-José Durand explains the importance of adopting good return-to-work practices. She also addresses the progressive return to work and its impacts, and explores transfer possibilities in an international context.

 

E – Brief video with Prof. Marie-France Coutu, Ph.D. (in French only)

Marie-France Coutu states the similarities between return-to-work management practices for different health conditions. She deals with the issue of revealing the health problem in the workplace and managing the return to work in the case where there existed a disciplinary problem prior to the leave.

 

F– Brief video with Dr. Bérangère Petit-LeToumelin, BNP Paribas’ occupational health services coordinating physician
(in French only)

Dr. Bérangère Petit-LeToumelin presented the context that led to the development of the Guide for returning to work after a prolonged absence, the collaborative process and the expectations set.

COMPLEMENTARY TOOLS

Global-Watch has developed the following tool that will provide you with additional knowledge on the subject of this toolkit. Check it out!

 
Global-Watch Scientific Interpretations
  • Key practices for a successful and sustainable return to work. Access
  • Sustainable return to work for individuals with common mental disorders: Building on available resources. Access
  • Challenges of the return to work for breast cancer survivors. Access

 

 
Case study (video): 3 initiatives to facilitate the return to work after mental health issues

The case study, produced by Global-Watch, presents initiatives from Denmark, the United Kingdom and Canada on the return to work following a work disability leave for psychological health reasons. Access the tool

 

 
Critical Incidents in the Railway Industry: 
Preventing Negative Psychological Effects in Locomotive Engineers and Train Conductors.

Presentation of a tool from the Institut de recherche Robert-Sauvé en santé et en sécurité du travail that addresses several aspects to consider in improving the management of employees involved in a critical incident. Access the tool

 

Pierre Breton
Author: Pierre Breton

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