Return to Work Interviews - Guidelines for Managers

  • Purpose:
    • To welcome the employee back to work
    • To brief the employee on work-related issues in their absence
    • To ensure the employee is fully fit to return to work
    • To identify the reason for the absence and confirm the length of absence
    • To identify and address any problem (work-related or otherwise) that may be causing or contributing to the absence
    • To discuss and/or identify any adjustments to the workplace/hours/duties that may reduce/eliminate absences
    • To agree the priorities for the post absence period and to up-date the employee
      The informal meeting must be held in private and must be handled in a sensitive, professional and competent manner. The length of the discussion should be appropriate to the circumstances of the absence being considered.
  • Preparation:
    • Ensure you have the right information available
    • Check records for both current and previous absences are up-to-date via the Core HR Team in the HR Directorate
    • Be prepared to discuss any trends or patterns of absence
    • Remember THIS IS NOT A DISCIPLINARY HEARING - you are trying to establish facts relating to the sickness absence
    • Approach the meeting with an open mind and have no prejudgments
  • Discussion:
    • The core of this process is to discuss the absence
    • Try to determine the cause of the absence
    • Listen to what is being said
    • Is the cause work-related?
    • Could adjustments to the workplace/hours/duties reduce/eliminate absences?
    • Are there any other problems contributing to the absence
    • Place current absence in the context of previous absences
    • Be sensitive to the employee’s feelings where personal problems and illnesses are brought to your attention
    • Where there is conflicting evidence/statements, ask for an explanation
    • Discuss the effect of the absence on the employee's work colleagues
    • Ensure the employee understands that frequent, short-term absences within a rolling 12 month period may trigger the School’s policy regarding Frequent, short-term absences (section 3.6.2 of the Sickness Absence Policy)
  • Afterwards:
    • Make a written note of the meeting using the Return to Work Interview Form
    • Scan the form
    • Then send the scanned form electronically to your appropriate HR Officer who will ensure the form is placed on the employee’s personnel file

HR Directorate
November 2011