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Returning to Work: Key Factors

Several factors have been identified that influence the likelihood that an employee will be willing and able to return to work after recovering from an episode of depression. a 

  • Characteristics of the employee that hinder return to work:
    • Older age
    • Being single, widowed or divorced
    • Lifestyle factors, such as smoking, using illicit substances, or drinking alcohol excessively
    • Not attempting to return to work within the first year and a half of leaving
  • Characteristics of the employer that hinder return to work:
    • Poor supervisor/employer communication with employee
    • Restrictive sick pay policies
    • Restrictive health benefit plans
    • Jobs characterized by high levels of work stress
    • Lower-grade/lower-skill occupations
    • Suffering an injury at work 

Employers should work to improve their policies that hinder employee return to work after experiencing a depressive episode.

a. Blank, Peters, Pickvance, et al. (2008) “A systematic review of the factors with predict return to work for people suffering episodes of poor mental health.” Journal of Occupational Rehabilitation, 18:27 - 34.