back to work interview questions

Examples of effective questions to ask during the return to work interview could include:
  • How do you feel now?
  • Do you feel well enough to be back at work?
  • During your absence, did you see a GP or pharmacist?
  • Are you taking any medication, and are there any side effects that we should know about?

Why Return-to-Work Interviews Are a Good Idea

Return-to-work interviews are not a legal requirement but they are beneficial to both the company and the individual if they are performed correctly.

Knowing that any absence will require a conversation with a line manager should reduce malingering or not-so-serious absences. It will also allow employees taking a genuine leave of absence to discuss any problems and work with the company to make any necessary adjustments.

A thorough return-to-work interview will help to get an employee back up to speed quickly after a long absence, and will ensure they feel supported and valued.

When Should You Conduct a Return-to-Work Interview?

A return-to-work interview must be conducted as soon as the employee returns to work – usually the day they get back.

Getting the return-to-work interview completed before the employee begins working on the day they return will make sure that they are fit and ready to be back. They can get straight into their work.

Sometimes, it might be better to have a return-to-work interview before the employee is scheduled to start. Long-term absences (over four weeks) often need specific management and usually require some form of phased return, reduced hours or altered duties.

Manage absences and deter dishonesty with return-to-work interviews

back to work interview questions

UK organisations still rank return to work interviews among the most popular and effective methods for managing absence — both short-term and long-term (CIPD Absence Management Survey 2015).

Put simply, a return-to-work interview get results. Here’s how to use them, and why.

Free Download: Definitive Guide to Managing Sickness

6. Reiterate your expectations and set targets for improvement

Repeated short-term sickness absence can be incredibly disruptive. Your sickness absence policy should therefore set clear trigger points for unacceptable levels of short and frequent sickness absence.

There are two main ways to do this:

  • Set a threshold of a certain number of days’ absence in a given period (for example, X days in X months).
  • Trigger the procedure where an employee’s absence reaches a set ‘Bradford factor’ score. This means that more weight is given to the number of absences instead of the duration, so a high number of short absences will score much higher than fewer longer absences.
  • You will also need to determine what will happen once those triggers have been met. Will the employee receive an informal caution at first? Will repeated absences lead to formal warnings? Will they face dismissal for serious and unacceptable absences?

    Return to work interviews are an opportunity to remind employees of these triggers and the potential consequences, as well as set clear improvement targets and timescales in which to achieve them.


    How do you do a back to work interview?

    The six steps to a healthy return to work interview
    1. 1, Welcome back. Make their return to work a positive occasion, and use this as an opportunity to make sure they really are well enough to come back.
    2. 2, Crucial updates. …
    3. 3, Identify adjustments. …
    4. 4, Create a plan. …
    5. 5, Confirm absence record. …
    6. 6, Open for questions.

    What questions to ask employees about returning to work?

    How comfortable do you feel coming back into the office? ( Add a reopening date here, if you have one)
    • Very confident, can’t wait to get back.
    • Somewhat confident, not sure if it’s the right thing to do.
    • Not confident at all, I’d rather work remotely.

    What does a back to work interview mean?

    A return to work interview is a short, informal meeting held with an employee on their return to work after an absence. We recommend that they follow a consistent format, with the employee and their manager working through a return to work form together.

    How do you answer do you have anything you want to revisit from your first interview?

    2. Do you have anything you want to revisit from your first interview? A less-than-ideal answer to this question is, “Not really.” So, before the second interview, take time to make a list of things that occurred to you after your last conversation that you may want to bring up.

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