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Employer Best Practice Guidelines for the Return to Work of Workers on Mental Disorder–Related Disability Leave



There has been an increasing number of employer best practice guidelines (BPGs) for the return to work (RTW) from mental disorder-related disability leave. This systematic review addresses 2 questions: 1) What is the quality of the development and recommendations of these BPGs? and 2) What are the areas of agreement and discrepancy among the identified guidelines related to the RTW from mental illness-related disability leave?


A systematic literature search was performed using publically available grey literature and best practice portals. It focused on the RTW of workers with medically certified disability leave related to mental disorders. The Appraisal of Guidelines for Research and Evaluation II (AGREE II) was used to assess the quality of the development and recommendations of these BPGs.


A total of 58 unique documents were identified for screening. After screening, 5 BPGs were appraised using AGREE II; 3 BPGs were included in the final set. There were no discrepancies among the 3, although they were from different countries. They all agreed there should be: 1) well-described organizational policies and procedures for the roles and responsibilities of all stakeholders, 2) a disability leave plan, and 3) work accommodations. In addition, one guideline suggested supervisor training and mental health literacy training for all staff.


Although there were no discrepancies among the 3 BPGs, they emphasized different aspects of RTW and could be considered to be complementary. Together, they provide important guidance for those seeking to understand employer best practices for mental illness-related disability.

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