If you’re planning on introducing Return to Work Interviews, your next move is likely to be wondering how to carry out a return to work interview.
64% of employers believe that Return To Work (RTW) interviews reduce absence levels so it’s certainly worth considering doing them. RTW interviews can be an effective method of reducing absence, but only if the interviews themselves are carried out effectively.
RTW interviews are much more than the old fashioned “sick parade” approach to dealing with people coming back to work. They are not an interrogation of employees reasons for absence.
Why carry out a return to work interview?
By carrying out RTW interviews, and making it clear in your sickness policy that you will do so, you can discourage unauthorised and non-genuine sickness absence.
When should you carry out a return to work interview?
Ideally the line manager would meet with the employee on their first day back from absence, however long, or short, that period of absence was. If the employee is field based, or geographically distant, a RTW interview by phone is acceptable.
What should you cover in the Return to Work Interview?
- welcome employees back and check they are well enough to work;
- identify any workplace adjustments that may be needed;
- develop, or discuss, the details of any agreed plan for the return to work;
- update the employee about any changes that have taken place during their absence;
- confirm that their absence record is correct;
- ensure that the correct absence certification has been provided
- allow them to discuss any other issues that you may need to help them with.
How to carry out a Return to Work Interview?
A RTW interview is not overly formal. It should be conducted in private so that the employee’s personal information is not overheard by others.
You will find your RTW Interviews more effective if you
- show that you are listening to your employee
- show an interest in what is going on for them
- focus on the employee’s health and well-being and their return to work.
- demonstrate that you are objective. It is easy to be influenced about personal opinions about the person or the reason for their absence
- avoid making judgements about how you or anyone else would react to the particular health issue the employee is dealing with
- support the employee if they become distressed, stay focused, give them time to recover and reassure them that you are listening and want to help.
- ask open-ended questions.
**UPDATED ADVICE FOR COVID 19**
Employees coming back to work after a long absence are likely to be particularly concerned about the arrangements in place to ensure the workplace is COVID secure.
You can help reassure employees in a number of ways
- talk to them or write to them to describe the arrangements, maybe send them photos of changes?
- bring them into the workplace for a tour at a quiet time so they can take their time absorbing changes
- answer any questions they’ve got. If you don’t know the answer, commit to finding out the answer
- ask questions of them. Is there anything that they are especially worried about. Can you reduce their worries by explaining what happens in reality?
There are some general areas of good practice in our blog on reopening your business after lockdown .
If you would like to talk to us about how to carry out a return to work interview please call us on 01706 565332 or email us using the contact form
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.