Return to work interview
Besides knowing how to do a return to work interview, it’s good to know why we do a return to work interview.
- They are necessary for good housekeeping in your workplace.
- They are just one of the things that companies may wish to consider introducing to keep track on the comings and goings of employees.
- The interview will let you see what was behind the absence. This is important because after a while you might start to see trends. For example, you have an employee absent a lot with back pain or headaches, which could indicate a problem with seating, lifting or lighting, for example. Remedying these issues could save you lots of absences – not to mention legal action.
- There’s evidence that companies who introduce Return to Work interviews experience a reduction in sickness absence. It shows that you are taking absence seriously and possibly also a “fear factor”. Some employees who might in the past have taken the odd day off when they just couldn’t be bothered to come to work might be wary of being “found out” if they slip up in the interview by contradicting their original cover story.
- Companies don’t demand doctors’ fit notes if the absence is for seven days or less, so it’s good to have a record of why the employee was off – you can judge whether the reason seems justifiable or not.
- There is the issue of presenteeism, which is where people come to work when they really should be off sick. It can occur when employees who have been off sick begin to worry that they have been off too long and come back before they’re really ready to do so. A sensitive Return to Work interview can make sure that this isn’t the case and offer reassurance to the employee.
Use return-to-work interviews:
- to welcome the employee back, check they are well enough to resume duties, focus on their value to your business and update them on any changes
- if they have a Fit Note, discuss the details. If it says ‘may be fit for some work’, you will need to discuss the feasibility of a new working arrangement. For example, if it says the employee must avoid lifting, you might be able to get them to do more administrative duties until they are deemed medically fit to return to their usual duties.
- to get a better understanding of their problem.
- in cases where there is room for improved attendance, an employee must be told what is expected and the likely consequences if this does not happen. They should also be told if their level of absence is potentially putting their job at risk.
If an employee is disabled or has been made disabled due to their illness, you are legally required to make reasonable adjustments to enable the employee to continue working.
If an employee is repeatedly absent and the return-to-work interviews do not help with improving the employee’s attendance record, you may wish to take further action.
If it hasn’t already been ascertained, try talking about the causes of their absence and if anything can be done to improve their attendance. You need to be sensitive about reasons for repeated absences.
However, repeated unexplained or unjustified absences may be treated as a conduct issue and lead to disciplinary action and ultimately dismissal.
Remember, to maintain good practice in return to work interviews, you must:
- be prepared
- be swift
- observe consistency
- be accurate
- show sensitivity
- keep it official
If you want to find out more about 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.