Should I Be Conducting Return To Work Interviews?

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Return to work interviews

Designed to keep track of an employee’s sickness levels and deal with any issues that may arise from any given period of sickness.

Although it is not a legal requirement to conduct a return to work interview, it can be a useful tool to aid the company in keeping an eye on absence levels. It also allows you to monitor sick days with regards to payroll so you know what an employee should be paid depending on whether you offer company sick pay or statutory sick pay to employees.

Ideally, the return to work interview should be done the first morning that the employee returns to work. If this is not possible, then it must be done during the day but it is best conducted prior to the employee starting their daily work. This avoids any complications later should the employee not be fit for work or if there are any concerns surrounding the time off they have just had.

The best way to conduct a return to work interview is to have a form with the required information and to complete the form with the employee during a discussion. If you have a return to work interview template ready, then you can tailor it as you need to depending on the situation.

The main areas you need to focus on are:

  • The period of sickness – length
  • Is this a one off absence or recurring – note down the dates if it is recurring to use as the basis for your discussion
  • Did the employee visit a doctor and/or receive a sick note? When a sick note is given, always attach it to the return to work interview form
  • Was any medication prescribed?
  • Is the employee still on any medication?
  • Is the employee fit for work? Did the doctor/GP ask them to make a return appointment?

It is important to look at any patterns associated with sickness. Does an employee always take off Fridays and Mondays for example, did they request holidays that were declined and then report in as sick over the same period or is it a similar time each year or month?

Team members who take time off frequently are why a return to work interview is so important. It allows you to discuss the reasons and gives you a chance to formally document the time off in case you need to take things further due to a lack of capability in the job role because of high sickness levels or overly frequent absences.

Most people who take time off have a genuine reason and a return to work interview allows you to explore this further and maybe provide assistance in terms of their role if they are struggling due to ill health. It provides a safe space for a discussion to assess how best to deal with the situation moving forwards.

Are they right for your company?

Think carefully whether return to work interviews are the best way for your business to collect this information. Articulate clearly the reasoning behind introducing them to team members to make sure their purpose is clear.



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