Return to work interviews

What is a return to work interview, when should I conduct one and is it a legal requirement?

What is a return to work interview?

A return to work interview is what it says on the tin – a short, informal meeting with an employee who has been off for a period of time due to sickness and is returning to work.

Are return to work interviews a legal requirement?

No, conducting a return to work interview is not a legal requirement but employers do have a duty of care to their employees to look after their health, wellbeing and safety. If your employee has been off sick, return to work interviews are a helpful tool for businesses to check in on their employee to make sure they’re well enough to come back to work and can do their job.


When should return to work interviews take place?

Return to work interviews should take place after every period of sickness absence – no matter how short and should be conducted as near to the first day back as possible.

If your employee is never off work and rarely takes a sick day it could be tempting not to worry about a return to work interview but if you hold interviews for some employees and not others it might be considered as unfair treatment, and potentially even lead to claims of discrimination or breach of contract.


Why conduct a return to work interview?

  • It emphasises that managers and the business take absence seriously which can help to reduce absences
  • It helps managers understand what’s really happening – perhaps there’s an underlying reason for absence (for example, bullying at work)
  • It provides insightful data in absence trends, helping you to identify absence trends early and potentially prevent them in the future
  • It helps welcome employees back to work, letting them know they are valued
  • It’s a good opportunity to offer help, if it’s needed and make any reasonable adjustments


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Whether you need guidance on conducting return to work interviews or help managing difficult conversations with employees, we can help you tackle sickness absence issues. Primed Premium gives you unlimited telephone and email advice from our employment & HR experts and support with your contracts and policies.

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