Suppose I have an injury, which warrants an extended absense followed by a Ramped Return to Work. Let's suppose I started at 2dpw and have currently progressed to working 3 dpw, with a shared expectation that I'll gradually ramp back up to 5dpw in the mid-term future (say, 3-6 months)

I have a minor flare up of the injury due to abnormal work loads in one week, and need to rest for a few days / weeks. I believe this flare up was not a function of the current expected ramp-up load, but was solely a function of these abnormal circumstances; thus in my view the 3dpw is still a viable workload once this flare-up has subsided.

Can the employer declare that they are reducing my working hours back down to 2 dpw, based solely on their own judgement?

If it were at the advice of a suitable medical professional, then it would seem plausible to impose such a reduction. But without that my first instinct is that this would be equivalent to forcing an employee to take holiday cover illness, which I know (well, believe) to be illegal.

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    Talk to an employment or labor lawyer in your city. They would be the best persons to answer this question. Commented Jul 22, 2023 at 20:08
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    You would have signed some agreement or contract. And there will be existing company policies. It also depends on what these documents have in them. Commented Jul 23, 2023 at 2:07
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    If you need weeks of rest, it doesn't seem unreasonable for the company to consider this a step backward in your return to work progress. They probably if insurance related liability if something happens to you while you are ramping up.
    – cdkMoose
    Commented Jul 24, 2023 at 8:36

2 Answers 2


Responsible British employers have a duty of care enshrined in law to ensure that you are working safely within your current capacity and it seems that when you stepped up from 2 to 3 days a week, you had a setback.

Now, you say this was as a result of a 'flare-up' of a work related injury caused by 'abnormal loads'. Since this is very much a health and safety issue, any responsible employer would review your progress.

Whilst I can appreciate you want to get back to full time work asap, you seem unwilling to accept that you are not currently fit enough to do so. Sure, an irresponsible employer might turn a blind eye to this flare up and put you back to full time, but if you were to have a more serious repetition of the health condition, this might be regarded as dangerous in the workplace as well as leaving you in a worst state health-wise and your employer could even be prosecuted for acting irresponsibly.

I am in the UK and know how low UK SSP is and the lack of income will be doing you no favours economically or mentally, but please try to work with your employer to review your Ramped return to work plan, maybe to include you working some less strenuous areas in your place of work where 'abnormal loads' are not present.

I have no idea if you are in a union, but if you were, your union rep would help you negotiate a safer return to work and also raise the issue of why 'abnormal loads' are even being handled by staff in the first place. If you are not in a union, is there anyone at your place of work who might act as a friend during the meetings to discuss your planned return to full time work since in the UK, you do have the right to be accompanied by either a co-worker or a union rep in such matters?

I hope your strength and stamina recovers soon but rushing back to work when you are not strong enough is not the answer.


Best way I can think of to get them to change that decision would be a note from your doctor saying that they have examined you recently and in their opinion you are again fit to resume 3dpw.

Otherwise I really can't blame the company for concluding that this was beyond your current capabilities and trying to protect you -- and themselves -- by going back to two.

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