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Individuals

We know that being able to work is essential for living your best life.

You are not alone if you feel unprepared for being out of work because of an injury or illness. Our experts have compiled resources to help you navigate the maze of medical treatment, recuperation, and the return-to-work process.

Get the information you need to stay at or return to work here.

LINK Resources for VT Study Participants

10 TIPS FOR STAYING AT WORK DURING AN INJURY OR ILLNESS

1. TAKE CARE OF YOURSELF

Self-care is not selfish. It is normal to worry about the impact your medical condition may have on different parts of your life. Taking time for yourself can be even more difficult when you don’t feel well; however, self-care techniques have been shown to improve coping, health, and wellbeing. Start with a few manageable steps.

2. GET THE FACTS

Schedule a doctor's appointment to get a clear diagnosis, make a treatment plan, and discuss the timeline for healing. Bring your job description to the appointment and explain your job so your doctor can understand what you do for work. At every visit, ask for an activity prescription that describes what you can safely do and what you shouldn't do (both at work and at home). This may change over time.

3. STAY AT WORK IF YOU CAN

Research shows that working is essential for your health and the health of your family. If it is medically safe, try to stay at work while you are receiving care from your doctor. If you are unable to do some or all of your usual job, temporary or permanent alternative work may be available to you. For example, if you do physical work, you may be able to do desk work while recovering from a back injury. Ask for ideas or make suggestions to your doctor or employer about changes to your job that could help you stay at work. For work-related injuries in Vermont, a Vermont Department of Labor Work Capabilities Form (Form 20) should be signed by your doctor every 4 to 6 weeks.

4. REMEMBER THAT AN ACTIVITY PRESCRIPTION IS A PRESCRIPTION

A work release from your doctor is a prescription that you need to follow. If the prescription is too restrictive or not restrictive enough, ask your doctor to change it to match your capabilities. Keep a copy of your activity prescription, so you can share it with your employer if you feel pressure to work beyond your capabilities. If your supervisor has questions about what you can and can't do at work, tell them you will ask your doctor for clarification. Do not exceed the activity levels prescribed by your doctor.

What if my doctor says I can't work or my employer can't provide work my doctor says that I can do? Talk to your Human Resources representative, Benefits Office, and local State Voc Rehab and Career Resource Center offices.

5. ASK QUESTIONS

You have the right to make decisions about your health care. Learn about your medical condition and your treatment. Learn about your rights and benefits. Ask questions until you understand.

6. KEEP GOOD RECORDS

Use a calendar to track your appointments. Use a notebook to take notes. Use a folder to keep medical records and forms organized in one place.

7. STAY ACTIVE

Research shows that people who keep their daily routine as normal as possible recover from an injury or illness faster and more completely. Being active can also help prevent, slow, or improve chronic health conditions. Ask your doctor what you can do to help yourself get better.

8. REPORT WORK-RELATED INJURIES OR ILLNESSES PROMPTLY

Tell your doctor, employer, and insurance company when and how you got hurt as soon as possible. Complete an incident report and ask for a copy. Giving clear details can help speed up decisions about your benefits. Note: Your employer is not entitled to information about personal medical conditions that are not work-related, but you can volunteer this information if you are comfortable doing so.

9. STAY IN TOUCH WITH YOUR EMPLOYER

Good communication is key. If you are not working, it is a good idea to keep your employer up to date on your progress and any changes your doctor makes to your activity prescription, especially if it is a job that you want to go back to. This way, your employer knows what to expect and can plan how to cover your work until you return. If you have a Human Resources representative or Benefits Office, keep them updated too.

10. ASK FOR HELP

If coping becomes difficult or your recovery is slow, get support sooner than later. There is no shame in needing help.