I want to continue to work after chronic Illness or long-term sick leave

Returning to work after a period of sick leave due to illness is not always easy. In some countries, regulations are in place to manage the transition back to work after sick leave. This pages provides an overview of regulations in Ireland

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Return after treatment for chronic illness

Regulations in place to support those who are looking to return to work following a chronic illness

No specific occupational legislation in place regarding return to work. Two main pieces of legislation are: (1) Employment Equality Act 1998-2015 and (2) Health & Safety Act

Equal treatment

The Employment Equality Acts 1998 to 2015 prohibit employers in Ireland from discriminating against employees or prospective employees on the nine equality grounds, including the ground of disability. The definition of disability under the Acts includes… “the presence in the body of organisms causing, or likely to cause, chronic disease or illness”

Safety, health and welfare

The Safety, Health and Welfare at Work Act 2005, which repealed and replaced the Safety, Health and Welfare at Work Act 1989 was brought in to make further provision for the safety, health and welfare of persons at work. This Act clarifies and enhances the responsibilities of employer‘s, the self-employed, employees and various other parties in relation to safety and health at work. The Act also details the role and functions of the Health and Safety Authority, provides for a range of enforcement measures that may be applied and specifies penalties that may be applied for breach of occupational safety and health.

Disability.. as defined under the legislation, the Irish Equality legislation provides, “shall be taken to include a disability that at present exists, or which previously existed but no longer exists, or which may exist in the future or which is imputed to a person.” Many long term illness related absences, therefore, fall into the category of disability.

Section 16 of the Employment Equality Act 2004 provides that an employer is not required to retain an employee if he/she “is not fully competent” and “fully capable” of carrying out their role. Notwithstanding this, an employee with a disability must be regarded as fully competent and capable if the employer can take “appropriate measures” which would enable them to perform their role. This well-established principle is known as reasonable accommodation.