No matter how well we look after ourselves, it is impossible to rule out the risk of illness, and many of these illnesses, such as serious physical complaints or long-term mental health issues such as depression, can lead to us having to take considerable time away from work.
One of the most obvious problems associated with being off work for a long time is the financial worry that this brings. During this time, some people explore other avenues to boost their income, including checking to see whether they can make a PPI-claim and you should make sure that you are receiving your fair share of entitlements.
If you have a supportive employer, who is committed to helping you back to work at the end of your illness, you should receive assistance with the important aspects of transitioning back to employment, such as aids and adaptation and a phased return to work. But if you are returning to the workforce in search of a new job, don’t worry. Although it can seem daunting, there are some key things to bear in mind.
When you are ready and well enough to return to work, it is a good idea to have your doctor write a Fit Note, detailing your illness, why it meant you were unable to work, confirming that you have fully recovered, and outlining reasonable adjustments that an employer would be able to make to ease you into the workforce. This can also help with the gap in your resume that a period of illness will inevitably lead to.
Applying for work
That resume gap may feel like a big problem, but it need not be. Most employers have come across numerous people who have had long-term illnesses or absences, and as long as you deal with it professionally, it will not be held against you.
The best approach is to be honest about your illness, without going into details that will make you uncomfortable. Employers will appreciate the openness and will instead focus on your skills, qualifications, and experience, which is as it should be. The other important point to bear in mind is not to be apologetic. You didn’t choose to suffer from illness so instead present it to potential employers as a challenge that you overcame.
Getting back into the routine
When you find a new job, don’t assume that you can go straight back into the workforce as though nothing has happened. It will take you time to re-adjust and you should go easy on yourself through this process. It is also a good idea to have an informal chat with your new manager or supervisor, opening lines of communication and being upfront about your illness. That way it will become easier for you and the organization you are working for to navigate the first few weeks of your transition back to employment.
Returning to work after a long period of absence is daunting, but the mere fact that you have overcome the challenge of illness should be seen as an achievement. As long as you are open and upfront about what you have been through, there is no reason why you cannot make a successful and rewarding return to employment.