The present study evaluates the significance of the process of public school teachers returning to work following sick leave for mental and behavioral disorders. It is a qualitative study conducted with 20 elementary school teachers currently active or undergoing retraining. Data was obtained thru individual interviews, focus groups and a questionnaire, which included socioeconomic data and work conditions, during 2011 and 2012. Data was analyzed by means of thematic categorization. Most participants were women, average age of 44 years old, and working 43.2 hours per week. Among those who were active teachers, returning to work was associated with the reasons that led to the sick leave, their ability to accomplish actual work and the possibility of being valued at work. Regarding teachers undergoing retraining, the impacts of returning to work included the conflict of returning to the classroom or being away from it. It was paramount to discuss their professional identity in order to understand the process of returning to work for the teachers undergoing retraining. Two themes were common to both groups of teachers: the role of the school managerial team during the process of returning to work and the prejudice they faced in the work environment. It was not possible to approach returning to work without discussing the sick leave process. The performed analyses, by the point of view of the participants, revealed a number of topics to understand the process of sick leave and returning to work, as well as the living and working conditions of the teachers.
Teachers; Return to Work; Mental Disorders; Sick Leave; Prejudice; Occupational Health