After sickness absence
If you are off sick for longer than a week your employer should keep in touch with you on a fairly regular basis to find out how you are. This contact should make coming back to work will be easier for you.
If your absence has been prolonged or if it is the result of an ongoing physical or mental condition, you may be recognised in law as a disabled person. Your employer is legally obliged to make ‘reasonable adjustments’ to help you return to work. These may include a ‘phased return’ or a period of part-time working.
Even if you do not qualify as a disabled person, you may feel that some adjustments need to be made in your workplace, in order for you to be able to return to work. These may be short-term adjustments (e.g. a ‘phased return’), or longer-term measures. You should discuss these with your line manager, and usually with your institution’s Personnel office.
Your institution will probably have formal procedures in place for monitoring of sickness absence and supporting you in your return to work. Contact your Personnel office for more details of these.
After being a victim of bullying or harassment
The website ‘No Bully for Me’ provides advice and support on returning to the workplace after being a victim of unacceptable treatment at work.
After having a family
If you haven’t been in work for a while, it is natural to feel apprehensive about going back. You may feel that you have lost your confidence, that your knowledge is out-of-date or that the technical and other skills that you once had have disappeared.
These are common feelings, but they usually cease once you get back to work. Many mothers soon feel like they have never been away!
Here are some suggestions to make the process easier:
- Keeping in touch with your colleagues and employer during maternity leave can help
- Take advantage of ‘keeping in touch’ days, if they are offered by your employer
- Try and maintain some awareness of developments in your subject area, e.g. through your employer’s or professional body’s newsletters
- Ask your friends and colleagues for updates on what is happening at work
- Find out if your institution offers courses or other activities for women returning to work
- Make sure that you are happy with your childcare arrangements. You will feel much more comfortable about returning to work if you are happy with your childcare. Don’t leave setting up your childcare until the last moment; it can take many weeks to find the right option for you and your family
- Explore the possibility of flexible working if you think it will be beneficial
- Don’t undervalue the skills that you have learnt from looking after your children– time management, negotiation, problem-solving and, above all, patience. Many of these will serve you well in the workplace on your return!
After a career break or a career away from academia
The Daphne Jackson Trust is a specialist funding scheme for qualified scientists, engineers and technologists returning to (part-time) work after a career break.
The Royal Society’s Dorothy Hodgkin Fellowship is a scheme which allows Fellows to work part-time or switch between full- and part-time working. It is designed for researchers who have parental or caring responsibilities, and particularly women. It also enables the Fellow to claim the cost of childcare during conferences or collaborative visits abroad.