This is our third HR Tip regarding sick leave. This week’s tip is in relation to carrying out a return to work interview following short or long term sick leave. Return to work interviews are seen as one of the most effective tools in managing absences.
If an employer commences a return to work interview this should be carried out consistently following a short or long term absence. Undertaking a return to work interview gives a message to employee that an employee’s health and wellbeing is taken seriously.
- The purpose of a return to work interview is:
- To update the employee on what has taken place during their absence
- To allow the employee to outline the reason for absence and enable the Manager to raise any concerns
- To determine if the absence is work related
- To highlight to the employee that managing absenteeism is a priority for the company
The following steps may assist in carrying out a Return to Work Interview:
- The meeting should be in private
- A return to work form may be helpful in the process. Be consistent use the same format after each absence.
- Welcome the employee back - make them feel valued
- Create an atmosphere of trust and support.
- Check in to see how the employee is feeling and that they are ‘fit to work’.
- Listen to what employee might have to say – is there any workplace issues contributing to their absence? If yes, then see how they can be addressed.
- Update employee on any matters arising during their absence
- If anyone has been covering for them ensure they link up and do a handover
- Check with the employee if they have any questions
- Confirm it’s good to see them back
Take notes of the discussion [the form can be helpful] both the employee and employer can sign off. Where an employee is returning from a long term absence the employer may be requested by the employee’s medical adviser to make some adjustment regarding their return to work for example a phased return to full time work or other accommodations. This would usually have been raised and discussed/agreed prior to the employee returning to work, it can however be noted and confirmed if any arrangements were made.
The meetings can be approached as an informal chat to ensure your employee has a positive experience on returning to work. The information discussed or shared is confidential so any notes/form should be stored confidentially.
If you need support in relation to how to manage sick leave our HR Team can assist – call us on 01 6235908.