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The Importance of Conducting Return-To-Work Interviews

When an employee returns to work from a period of absence such as sickness it’s important to conduct a return-to-work interview.

Yet many employers still shy away from conducting return-to-work interviews, perhaps seeing it as adding unnecessary tasks to their already high workload, creating admin for admin sake or just using more of their already precious time.

Although conducting a return-to-work interview is not a legal requirement, there are a variety of reasons to do so, which can ultimately reduce the employer’s workload and unnecessary admin allowing them to spend more time on the demands of the business in the long run.

Employers have a duty of care to their employees to protect both their physical and mental health. Conducting a return-to-work interview allows the employer to gain an insight into how an employee is feeling following their period of absence and whether they are indeed ‘fit for work’.

Asking the right questions might highlight a long-term health issue, which could be classed as a disability and may require you as their employer to make reasonable adjustments to the workplace or their job role. Additionally, if the employee has been prescribed medication whilst they’ve been absent from work, which has negative side effects impacting their ability to carry out their job role, an employer may not become aware of this until the return-to-work interview has taken place.

Ideally return-to-work interviews should be undertaken by the employee’s line manager and should be held as soon as possible following the employee’s return to work. They should take place regardless of whether the absence was long or short term and irrespective of the reason the employee cited for their absence.

There are a number of benefits to conducting return-to-work interviews:

1. Care and compassion for your employees

Showing your employees that you genuinely care about their health and wellbeing and updating them on any news which has occurred in their absence.

2. Identifying problems and working towards a solution

Is their absence work related, and if not, is there anything else you can do as their employer to assist them?

3. Maintaining accurate records and spotting trends

Ensuring your absence record aligns with the dates of their actual absence and allowing for any mistakes to be rectified. Spotting trends, such as the employee being frequently absent on a Monday morning.

4. Identifying reasonable adjustments

Under the terms of the Equality Act 2010 an employer is obligated to make reasonable adjustments to an employee’s workplace or role if an employee is classed as disabled.

5. Act as a deterrent for employees

Having a return-to-work interview following a period of absence may help prevent employees from taking sick leave when they aren’t actually sick.

📢If you need advice, contact one of our team on 01935411191 or email for a free initial consultation phone call. 📢


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