AIMS: To review the literature on return to work (RTW) in patients with burns. METHODS: Using a predetermined search strategy, we searched Ovid MEDLINE (1950 to January 2008) database to identify all English studies related to burn and work, rehabilitation, employment, return to work, occupation or vocational training. RESULTS: Twenty-one studies were identified with 3134 patients. An average of 66% of patients returned to work following their burn; with rates even higher in patients with lower total body surface are burns. Time taken to RTW ranged from 4.7 weeks to 24 months. Common barriers to RTW were extent and severity of the burn, longer length of stay in hospital and number of operative procedures. CONCLUSIONS: This review found that the severity of burn was the most significant barrier to RTW. Further research is required to explore physical and psychosocial interventions aimed at helping people with burns return to and sustain employment.