Employee return to work guide

by evolvedlegal on July 22, 2012

  • SumoMe

Return to work interview

There are several different reasons why an employee might be absent from work: illness, injury, parental leave, stress etc. The employer is under a duty to be in contact with an absent employee and make sure they receive the support needed.

What is a return to work interview ?

The interview is usually conducted after a long absence from work. It might be a way of your employer welcoming you back to work and ensuring you are fit and ready to take up your duties.

It could be a good opportunity to communicate with your line manager and letting them know of any worries or issues you might have before you return to work. From the employer’s perspective it is an opportunity to find out about the causes of absence and how it can be prevented in the future. The interview is also important from the business’ perspective as it proves to be the best way of reducing absence and saving costs in the long run.

How should it be conducted?

The interview should take place in private and the employee should be informed about its time and place before they return to their workstation. It should be informal but treated seriously. It is important that there is enough time for both parties to be able to voice their opinions and obtain the necessary information in an uninterrupted manner. It is an opportunity for the employer to bring the absent employee up to date with the state of affairs in the company or department, inform them on any new developments or changes which occurred during the employee’s absence. The reasons for employee’s absence should be discussed but without too much inquiry into medical details.

General points

As a matter of guidelines there are several points which should be discussed during the return to work interview. They are as follows:

  • The employer should welcome the employee back to work
  • The employer should ensure that the reasons for employee’s absence have ceased and they are fit to come back to work and there is no ongoing disability which might require workplace adjustments.
  • Discuss the reasons for absence whereby the employer should enquire whether any of the reasons were caused by work itself
  • The employee should be informed about any changes within the company, its policies or strategies
  • The employer should find out whether there is anything the company can do to prevent the employee’s absence from reoccurring (whether there are any reasonable adjustments that need to be made such as improving the condition of employee’s workstation by providing them with different equipment such as chair and desk or foot rest if they have suffered back or neck pain etc.)
  • Find out whether there are any medical directions which the company should follow to help the employee in preventing their absence (such as if they have suffered an injury caused by a car accident and are not fully recovered as a result)
  • Devise a plan if employee’s timetable needs re-adjusting (if they need time for medical or physiotherapy appointment or to care for a young child or elderly parent)

What should an employee expect?

As mentioned above the reasons for employee’s absence vary. They could be happy events such as having a baby or getting married and going away for a honeymoon or traumatic such as suffering a serious injury, receiving treatment or being diagnosed with an illness or caring for someone who needs support. The employer needs to be supportive of whatever the employee’s reasons for absence are and listen to their needs after their return. The employees will need to know that they will not be punished for having taken the time off work and be motivated to return to work knowing they will receive any help they might need.

For advice and support on any employment law matters or legal issues affecting your business, Darlingtons Solicitors can assist.




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