Return to work

Having a mini stroke (TIA) or minor stroke can impact on people’s work lives in different ways.

I need to take more breaks, I cannot sit in two three hour meetings…and I need to write much more things down …

TIA patient

How could my work life be affected?

Having a mini stroke (TIA) or minor stroke can impact on people’s work lives in different ways.

There can be direct impacts, such as your ability to do your job being affected by fatigue, memory or thinking problems. There can also be indirect impacts, like loss of confidence and low mood. Some people get worried that the stress from their job caused their mini stroke (TIA) or minor stroke.

Unfortunately, ongoing impacts from mini stroke (TIA) and minor stroke are still under recognised and underestimated. This means it can be difficult for healthcare providers and employers to understand how you have been affected. Many people underestimate the recovery time needed after mini stroke (TIA) and minor stroke.

Watch videos of people talk about their experience of work after mini stroke (TIA) and minor stroke.

How long should I have off work?

There isn’t a recommended set amount of time to take off work, it very much depends on when you feel ready. Try not to rush going back to work and give your body time to recover. You may find that some symptoms, like fatigue, resolve themselves after the first month.

The amount of time you take off may be influenced by the sick leave you get from your employer and other financial considerations.

If your job involves driving you must not drive for at least one month. Visit the driving page for more information.

Talk to your employer about a gradual “phased” return to work to ease yourself in gently.

Tips for returning to work

1. Gradual return to work

  • Talk to your employer about a gradual “phased” return to work, build up your hours.

2. Talk to your employer and/or colleagues

  • Often impacts are “hidden” so you will have to explain how you’ve been affected and what your needs are.
  • Have open and regular communication with your employer.
  • Don’t be embarrassed or apologise.

3. Have regular breaks

  • Be kind to yourself and take breaks when you need them.
  • You may find certain tasks more tiring, like group meetings.

4. Self-help and adaptations

  • You may want to adapt the way you work, like flexi-hours, move into a quiet office or work from home.
  • Think about physical aids that can help you, like reminders, recorders or to do lists.
  • Pacing is really important: spread out tasks or activities, through the day, week or month.
  • Prioritise where to use your energy.
  • View this table which lists common problems and potential work accommodations.

5. Reassess how you feel regularly

  • New impacts can emerge over time.
  • Some impacts, like fatigue, may feel much worse in a work environment compared to when you were recovering at home.
  • You may not have noticed subtle problems, like memory and thinking, until you went back to work.

6. Support from your organisation

  • Ask what support your organisation can provide, such as counselling or an occupational health service.

What are my legal rights?

Disability discrimination is against the law. You may not think of yourself as having a disability, but disability law includes both physical and mental impairment, including “hidden” problems like emotional and cognitive problems. 

The Equality Act 2010 protect people from all types of discrimination. Find out more information on the Equality Act.

This law compels employers to make ‘reasonable adjustments’ in the workplace. This could include changes to duties or practical aids.

Useful resources

Information leaflets

These leaflets are focused on stroke but many sections are relevant to mini stroke (TIA) and minor stroke: