An online toolkit with guidance materials
for employees and employers.

A team of researchers at Kingston University, Loughborough University and Affinity Health at Work have developed this toolkit to support employees and employers through the return to work process following mental health sickness absence. The toolkit includes employee and employer guides, conversation frameworks, checklists and self-led activities to help improve communication throughout absence and on return.

Illustration of a road in the country side

Our Vision

Our aim is to provide both employers/managers and employees suffering with mental ill-health, the tools and resources to help both parties navigate their way through the return to work process, creating a culture that is supportive and that leads to a successful return.

Our return to work toolkit aims to support businesses through the difficult return to work process, particularly focusing on mental health related sickness absence (i.e. absence related to stress, anxiety or depression). Our vision is for businesses everywhere to have the tools and know how to support employees returning to work. Using the toolkit, organisations and individuals have access to two self-led guides (an employer and employee version) which signposts users through the six step guidance starting from the first day of initial absence, all the way through to maintaining and reviewing the employee’s health and work responsibilities once they are back at work. Additionally, there are a number of other useful and practical tools available in the toolkit, these include; checklists, templates, exercises, tips and advice. Visit our download page to view these now or use the toolkit to see them as you go.

As a research team we have experience in working with a number of organisations to help improve employee wellbeing and health and engagement using evidence based research and best practice in order to maximise business performance. Some of our recent work collaborations include schools and universities, NHS Trusts, Her Majesty’s Prison Service, TFL, International SOS, UNUM, FCA, AECOM and Lendlease. To learn more about the research team visit our contact page.

Get access to the toolkit by clicking on the relevant link for you on our homepage (either employer or employee) and get started. As we are currently trialling the toolkit during our evaluation period, we are asking anyone that is using the toolkit to get in contact with Rebecca on r.peters@kingston.ac.uk
Remember to leave us some feedback– the survey takes 10 minutes, have your say here.

The development of the toolkit

To develop this toolkit the project team:

  1. Reviewed the literature and guidance that is currently available.
  2. Asked a group of experts and professionals (from CIPD, HSE, ACAS, occupational rehabilitation, employment law and human resources) their opinion on the return to work process and how they manage absence.
  3. Interviewed 17 employers from a range of sectors and business sizes.
  4. Interviewed 7 employees with mental ill-health who returned to work, or would like to return.

The toolkit has been developed by taking on board feedback and recommendations from a range of stakeholders at each stage. Following a review of the literature and interviews with the steering group, the initial pilot materials were developed. These pilot materials were then shared during the employee and employer engagement interviews and feedback was used to develop a second set of pilot materials.

A detailed review of all the materials by a number of steering group members, as well as a walkthrough of the materials with employees and employers, identified additional recommendations that were integrated into the final version of the toolkit.

In addition, to ensure all materials are accessible and readable for a range of reading levels, all guidance was assessed and materials translated into a web design brand. Once online, the functionality and content of the toolkit was tested by a further 7 people, in addition to the research team.

Organisations trialling the toolkit:

A number of organisations, are kindly participating in our trial on behalf of DWP to test the products we have developed/are developing to manage mental health sickness absence.

In the meantime, please be aware that you are permitted to use the Products solely to the extent necessary for the purposes of and duration of the trial.

We draw your attention, in particular, to the conditions on use set out below.

  1. You must not use, store, copy or disclose the Products for any other purpose than the purposes of the trial [or as otherwise expressly authorised by ourselves in writing].
  2. At the end of the trial period (1ST October 2018), unless you have received our prior written consent otherwise, you must immediately cease to use the Products.
  3. At the end of the trial period (1ST October 2018), you must immediately return any documents and other tangible materials provided to you for the purposes of the trial.
  4. At the end of the trial period (1ST October 2018), you must ensure so far as reasonably practicable that any software, intellectual property and data provided to you for the purposes of the trial held in electronic, digital or other machine-readable form, ceases to be readily accessible from your computer, word processor, voicemail systems and/or any other device containing such software, intellectual property and data.

Thank you for your co-operation and continued participation in the trial.

Please do not hesitate to contact us if you require any further information or clarification.