The return to work interview

When your employee has returned to work following a sickness absence, you may want to conduct a return to work interview. These interviews are generally carried out by a line manager as soon as possible after the employee’s return from sick leave, ideally on their first day back at work.

Why carry out a return to work interview?

Research shows that carrying out a return to work interview is one of the most effective ways to manage attendance and reduce absence.

By carrying out return to work interviews, and making it clear in your sickness policy that you will do so, you can discourage unauthorised and non-genuine sickness absence.

You should carry out return to work interviews to:

  • welcome employees back and check they are well enough to work;
  • update employees about any changes that have taken place during their absence;
  • identify any workplace adjustments that may be needed;
  • develop, or discuss, the details of your agreed Return to Work Plan;
  • confirm that their absence record is correct;
  • allow them to discuss any other issues that you may need to help them with.

Tips for conducting a return to work interview

Return to work interviews should take place face-to-face, where possible, but they don’t need to be overly formal.

To make the interview as productive and successful as possible, you should:

  • make sure that you listen to your employees;
  • show an interest in what they have to say and take their concerns on board;
  • be objective – don’t allow yourself to be influenced by personal emotions or feelings;
  • ask open-ended questions.

More information

The Health and Safety Executive has information on return to work interviews and how to keep in contact with employees.