When an employee has been away from work for a pro-longed period due to severe illness there are some steps that should be taken to ensure a smooth and safe transition back into the workplace.
The most common reasons for long-term absence include a physical injury, surgery, a medical condition or mental health issues – all of which should undergo the same return to work procedure.
We advise that you take the following steps when an employee returns to work after long-term sickness absence:
Seek professional advice
Before an employee can return to work, they must be in good health and, even if they believe that they are ready to come back to work, it’s always best to seek a second opinion from a medical professional.
Once you receive a medical report and they have given you the go ahead, you can then begin your return to work process.
Create a plan
The first step is to produce a plan that outlines the return to work procedure for the employee. This should include return to work date, any new working hours, support they may have with certain tasks and how their return will be reviewed/monitored.
It may also explain whether there is a phased return, what it looks like and how long it will be in place.
Conduct a return to work interview
You will need to discuss this plan with the employee before they return to work as they should have an input in their return to work procedure. If they have any concerns or changes that they want to be made then you should try to accommodate them as best as you can.
Carry out a risk assessment
When someone has been ill and away from work, whether it was short or long-term, you should always make sure that they are well enough to be at work and that they are not a risk to others i.e. a virus that may be infectious.
This might mean conducting a risk assessment, particularly if they are returning following a physical injury and may not be able to do certain activities e.g. manual handling.
Monitor their progress
It’s important that you continue to communicate with them and monitor their progress over the course of a few weeks as they settle back into work. They may still be recovering from their illness and need flexible working, for example, or some support with certain tasks and it’s your duty to make sure that they are receiving anything they need.
Before your employee returns to work, you may need to put some adjustments in place to help them ease back into the workplace.
Once you have given your employee some time to settle in, and after monitoring their progress, you can then make any further necessary changes. This could include putting them back on normal working hours, giving them tasks which they may have not been able to previously undertake or leaving them to work more independently again.
If you have an employee who has been on sickness leave for a while and are concerned about your return to work procedure, our HR consultants can assist you – find out more about Managing Sickness Absence here.
They can help you put together a solid return to work plan and even sit in on the return to work interview if you need them to.
Call us today on 0845 2626 260 to book a free consultation.