Return To Work Interview

07th January 2019

It’s nothing new that when employees take time off work, it has costly implications for businesses. However, sometimes, absences are necessary and understanding when and why these absences occur is key in keeping absenteeism under control. This is why carrying out a return to work interview is so important, it helps to ensure that a workplace sickness policy is taken seriously. Not only is it a good practice from a productivity point of view, but it shows to your employees you’re taking an interest in them, and are taking the time to understand any health-related problems they are facing. Doing so also enables you to make any adjustments needed in the workplace to better respond to your employees’ needs.

It can be the case managers struggle to carry out a return to work interviews in the right way or worry about making employees feel like they are checking up on them. Follow the advice below when it comes to carrying out your new return to work interview to make sure you do it the right way.

When To Carry Out A Return To Work Interview?

As a manager, you should carry out a return to work (RTW) interview after an absence occurs. Try to get into the habit of carrying this out on their first day back into work, that way it’ll become routine and both you, and your team will get used to the procedure.

Tone Of The Interview

The tone you take during the RTW interview is really important, you should keep it informal and as a light chat, you don’t want to come across as invasive. In many cases, it’s simply a formality to acknowledge the absence. However, sometimes absences can be cause for concern; if you have noticed patterns in absence, or if underlying health problems have occurred. In these cases, you may need to be more serious and the interview will be more structured in nature in order to address this. In both cases, show to your employee you are fully taking the concerns on board and will help them out wherever possible.

What To Cover During The Interview

  • Over the course of the interview you should cover the following areas:
  • Welcome the employee back to work, and assess whether they are well enough to carry out their job
  • Inform employees of anything that may have changed during their time off
  • Assess whether any workplace adjustments need to be made to accommodate them
  • If required, discuss their Return to Work Plan (for longer absences)
  • Confirm that the absence record is correct
  • Make sure to ask them if they would like to speak about any other issues.

The HSE has put together some official, further guidance in the following resource. However, if you would like to find out more information on sickness management you can do here, or alternatively get in touch with our specialist Occupational Health team, we’re more than happy to help!

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