Absence Management: Point 5

The Return to Work Interview

The CIPD's annual survey on absence consistently recognises that return to work interviews are the most popular method of controlling absence.

Return to work interviews should be conducted after every single period of absence for an employee. Very often, once implemented into an absence management strategy, short term absence reduces quickly, as it can deter one day 'sickies' if people know they have to account to their manager on their return.

There are of course many benefits to conducting a return to work interview, not just imposing a level of accountability on the employee. You will get to see for yourself the state of the health of your staff member. Are they indeed fit to be back at work or have they attended simply because they can't afford to lose pay? Don't risk someone adding to your problems by bringing contagious illnesses into the workplace.

Additionally, for those people that have been absent for a longer period, you will be able to use that time to bring them up to date with the workloads and advise of any changes.

Depending on the nature of the illness, you may need to be aware of medications that the employee may have been prescribed. These may affect their ability to carry out their duties as many medications can have side-effects on operating machinery or driving.

Furthermore, you may need to provide support to an employee following a period of absence. This could be physical or emotional support, depending on the nature of the absence.

Most critically, a return to work interview can be useful in ensuring the employee knows the impact of their absence on the rest of their team and, if their absence is a bigger problem, advising them of this and potentially starting absence management procedures.

All of these factors can be discussed in a return to work interview so that you're fully aware of your staff members health.

It may be wise to ensure that more than one person in your organisation can conduct return to work interviews in order that the task doesn't take up too much of one persons time, but also so that crucial matters aren't missed if the only person who can conduct a return to work interview is away from the business themselves.

If you don't currently conduct return to work inteviews and want to know how to start, get in touch with us and we can provide you with a simple toolkit and if appropriate, provide training for your team managers.

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