When you conduct a return to work interview, a good template will make keeping records easier. This in turn will allow you to focus on conducting the whole procedure properly. As an employer, you want to understand and support your staff’s health and wellbeing.
In this article, we will discuss about how using a return to work form will contribute towards improved management of workplace sickness.
What is a return to work form?
A return to work form is a document employers use to record relevant details when staff start working again after sickness.
You should fill it in during the return to work interview, to establish further necessary steps. Some employees need support with a long recovery, for example. You can also use this meeting to do a handover after their sick leave.
Use a return to work after sickness form to:
- Keep records about the individual’s health and recovery.
- Keep records about any follow up appointments or continuing care that they might need. Attach any existing doctor’s assessment to the return to work form.
- Discuss any reasonable adjustments if they are still recovering, but fit to work, or if they suffer with long term effects. You need to know if any medication will affect their performance or maybe their ability to drive into work.
- Discuss any support that the individual needs to improve their wellbeing and avoid reoccurring absences. Do this at the stage where you record actions to be taken under the company’s absence policy.
Remember, you should not use a return to work interview form to place judgement or blame. A pro-active approach, highlighting the steps for you and your employee to follow, will benefit both of you better.
Examples of how to use a return to work template
The one-to-one meeting you hold with your staff on their return to work and the template go hand in hand. As seen above, both give you the opportunity to support your employee, and to minimise impact on your business from sickness absences.
Let us look at some real-life scenarios.
Your employee has isolated due to Covid illness. They are safe to return to work, as they will not pass the virus to their colleagues. However, they struggle with tiredness and other long Covid related symptoms.
You hold a return to work meeting and fill in the form, discussing about available options. As a result, you decide the employee will work from home for another week, to allow them time to recover properly.
In a different scenario, during the meeting you realise that the employees stomach ulcer flairs up due to intense stress. Their regular treatment fails at such times, which results in complications. By discussing this and offering your support, the employee opens up and you can find a solution together.
You decide that, at times with increase workloads and pressure, they can take breaks more often and work longer hours to help prevent flair-ups.
Why businesses fail to use a return to work form in the UK
We have seen managers fail to either hold a return to work interview or fill in a simple return to work form. There are understandable reasons behind this.
Firstly, having had an employee off sick, the team might already struggle with the workload. It can feel that diving straight into the daily workflow is the better option.
If this is a concern, just give handover, as mentioned above, in addition to filling in the staff return to work form.
Secondly, it can be uncomfortable to discuss one’s health at work without anxiety about negative outcomes. This often results from past experience, where a former manager conducted such interviews in a negative manner.
Avoid the temptation to focus on negatively question your worker’s fitness, or their reasons for taking sick leave at this stage. If you have real concern over their conduct, you can address this more efficiently in a separate meeting.
Thirdly, managers sometimes misunderstand the role of a return to work meeting, as they perceive it as a formality. In this case, it becomes a missed opportunity to demonstrate they care about their staff’s wellbeing, and to further support them.
Use our return to work interview form sample proactively
As highlighted above, we have seen employers put a negative spin on both the interview, and the return to work assessment form. This practice can affect the workplace, as staff feel that taking sick days off will put them in a negative light. Presenteeism turned into a very worrying problem during the Covid pandemic.
Employees who felt they had no choice but to show into work with Covid symptoms put their colleagues at risk. And this had a knock-on effect on the company, with extended staff absences that impacted business growth.
Treat this as your staff’s return to work risk assessment form, to protect their wellbeing. If they don’t feel threatened and judged, but supported and understood, you will have a happier, more productive workforce.
You might have real concerns about an employee’s absence pattern. In this case, it will benefit your business to measure the impact of regular, short absences on performance and engagement. Standardise the way you do it by using our Bradford Factor calculator and including it in your sickness policy. This will give you much more control over when and how to address concerns gradually, in a solution-orientated way.
Once you record absence patterns in your sickness return to work form, you can take further steps in subsequent meetings. Raise concerns, give warnings, and decide if a disciplinary will be necessary at a later date.
Talk to a Croner advisor
The Covid pandemic highlighted more than anything else how workers health can hugely impact business growth and economic stability. Don’t skip filling in a good return to work form sample. Recording and addressing any concerns and risks early, as seen in the examples above, can save you time lost with reoccurring staff illness and poor health.
Download our template return to work form to give you an idea of what you need to include.
Keep in mind that different industries present different risks to health and different challenges. Call one of our friendly HR advisors to see how you need to adapt this template to best fit your needs, on 01455 858 132.
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