Help employees on leave return to work mindfully

Mental health reasons can impede return to work.

Sometimes, employees who've been out on leave have concerns about their ability to return to work, life, and health successfully. Regardless of whether employees were on leave for mental health or other reasons, you are in a unique position to help employees ease into work after time away.

Return to work tips for employees

Return to work can be a stressful transition for both employees and employers. Sun Life has compiled some tips to help you create a supportive and smooth return from absence.

Read the work tips

Mental Wellness at Work Webinar

Join Sun Life’s Director, Clinical-Vocational-Accommodation Services, Carrie Bibens, MBA, CRC, and Behavioral Health Consultant Lisa Jacobus, LICSW, as they present a webinar on Mental Wellness at Work for employers.


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Ways you can show your support whether an employee is at work or returning to work

There are several ways to show your support, some of which are legally required, and most of which fall under the adage of treating others the way you would like to be treated. 

  • Listen and be empathetic. It's important as a manager that you are able to identify when a person is communicating a need for either a leave (either continuous or intermittent) or an accommodation.
  • Be responsive. This shows up in many ways including engaging HR for support that may result in leave for FMLA. If there are questions relative to the employee's performance or their need for an accommodation, respond to these questions as quickly as possible so that their leave or care is not delayed.
  • Don't discourage or otherwise interfere with a leave request.
  • Lastly, keep an employee's information private. This is extremely important and could put you and your organization at risk if not taken seriously.

Compliance considerations related to managing employees who may be experiencing challenges with mental health

Note:  The information on these pages provide general information about creating a mental wellness culture and helping employees stay at and return to work.  Please bear in mind that these situations may raise legal issues and obligations. Download our document Common Sense Compliance Guidance for managers and HR when addressing mental health in the workplace for more information on compliance considerations related to managing employees who may be experiencing challenges with mental health. We also recommend that you consult employment counsel for legal advice.

Your EAP is a valuable resource for employees who are returning to work after a leave

Learn how to maximize your organization’s EAP program. 

Learn More

  • What to do in a crisis 
    • Contact local police station for a wellness check 
    • Contact the National Suicide Prevention Hotline 1-800-273-8255 
    • Contact Human Resources Business Partner or Employee Relations. 
    • Take care of yourself 
  • If mental health treatment occurs within the first four weeks of impairment, four-out-of-five individuals likely will return to work. 

    • If a person needs to wait six months to get into care with a mental health provider, the outcome dramatically changes, and only one-in-five may return to work. 
    • If the wait is between one and two years, almost none will return to work. 

    Gen Re Mental Health Think Tank Data

In all states, except New York, Absence services are provided by Sun Life Assurance Company of Canada (Wellesley Hills, MA). In New York, Absence services are provided by Sun Life and Health Insurance Company (U.S.) (Lansing, MI). Absence services are not insurance and are not legal advice.

This content is not to be considered legal advice. We recommend that Clients speak with legal counsel as necessary.

Group insurance policies are underwritten by Sun Life Assurance Company of Canada (Wellesley Hills, MA) in all states except New York. In New York, group insurance policies are underwritten by Sun Life and Health Insurance Company (U.S.) (Lansing, MI).

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