We have looked at Why we need to do a return to work interview after absence, now we shall look at how to do a return to work interview. These should be undertaken to acknowledge each absence.
How to do a return to work Interview
- Welcome the employee back to work.
- Seek confirmation that the individual is fit to work
- Give the employee the opportunity to highlight any relevant issues and reasons for absence.
- Try to offer solutions if the employee raises any issues. If appropriate, refer to employee support mechanisms.
- Agree a review period and/or any actions required if appropriate.
Here’s our 6 step guide to how to do a return to work interview
- Be prepared
- In advance, review the employee’s attendance record over the previous 12 months. Take notes of any points arising from previous return to work discussions or meetings.
- Print off copies of the employee’s attendance over the last 12 months.
- Meet with the employee on the first day back at work, or shortly afterwards. Make sure that the meeting is held in a private space, out of the earshot of colleagues.
- It is important that a record of the Return to Work interview is kept by the manager.
- Decide what your objectives for the return to work interview are.
During the Meeting:
- Welcome the employee back to work.
- Have available copies of the employee’s attendance over the last 12 months that you can refer to.
- Explain the purpose of the meeting.
- Aim to encourage a two-way discussion.
- Seek confirmation that the individual is fit to work.
- Make notes of what is said.
Where there are on-going health issues:
- Be clear that the purpose of the meeting is to provide support to the individual returning to work.
- Review with the employee their attendance record. Look at previous Return to Work Interviews. Establish what help, support, or treatment the employee is currently receiving from their GP etc.
- Check if there are any underlying personal or work-related concerns. Discuss these issues and see if there is anything the company can do to help and support them.
- Establish if any ‘reasonable adjustments’ are required to their role or work environment.
- Agree a review period and if any actions are required.
- Do a risk assessment, if absences relate to disability, pregnancy or a work related accident.
Where there is persistent short term absence or a pattern of absence is developing:
- Discuss the cause of absence and the likelihood of the illness recurring. Give the employee the opportunity to highlight any relevant issues.
- Ask the employee to offer solutions to any issues raised.
- Remind the employee of the mutual obligations. For instance, it is the individual’s responsibility and contractual obligation to attend work. The employer has a responsibility for the employee’s wellbeing.
- Explain the effect their absence has had on colleagues. Clarify the department’s ability to deliver the service or meet its targets when staff are absent.
- Re-establish your expectations regarding attendance at work. Repeat to them the method for reporting sickness absence.
- Set a date to review the absence.
- Discuss the next steps of the sickness absence management procedure.
Where the employee believes the absence is work related.
- Discuss the employee’s view t the cause of absence and the likelihood of the illness recurring. Give the employee the opportunity to highlight any relevant issues.
- Listen carefully. You will need to obtain sufficient information for you to be able to understand their issue. Explain that you will reflect on the matter and consider next steps or options.
- Undertake a risk assessment, if appropriate.
- Agree with the individual any appropriate action or review periods.
After the meeting:
- Write up the notes of the meeting.
- Send a copy of the notes of the meeting to the employee. Ask them to sign the notes as an accurate reflection of what was discussed at the meeting.
- File a copy of the notes on the employee’s file.
To maintain good practice in return to work interviews, you must:
- be prepared
- be swift
- observe consistency
- be accurate
- show sensitivity
- keep it official
However, absence can sometimes mask an issue with misconduct or performance capability rather than ill-health. Therefore, if you would like further information on how to do a return to work interview, give us a call – 01706 565332.
Metis HR is a professional HR Consultancy based in the North West of England supporting clients across the country. We specialise in providing outsourced HR services to small and medium-sized businesses. Call us now on 01706 565332 to discuss how we may help you.