Return to work

Member of Staff

All individuals have a responsibility to make every effort to achieve the highest possible level of attendance.

During your sickness absence, you will:

  • be in regular contact with your manager/supervisor
  • let your manager/supervisor know when you expect to return

This will give your manager/supervisor time to make any necessary preparations for your return to work.

Signed off by GP

If you have been signed off by your GP, you should not return to work until after the last day you have been signed off.

If you wish to return to work within the certified sick period, you must obtain a certificate from your GP to confirm that you are fit to return to work at an earlier date than that specified on the original sick note.

Upon your return

  • Short term absence – if you have been off work for a period of short term absence, when you return to work, your line manager will have arranged a Return to Work meeting.

  • Long term absence – if during your period of absence your pay is reduced to half pay or no pay, you must complete an Incapacity Benefit Claim Form (SC1 Form)

Manager/Supervisor - Return to Work meeting

The purpose of the Return to Work meeting:

  • it's crucial part of managing sickness absence and maintaining high attendance
  • they show that the staff member's absence has been noticed and their return to work and wellbeing are important
  • continues to make managing sickness absence a priority for the organisation

The meeting enables the manager/supervisor to:

  • ensure that the individual is fit to return to work
  • discuss any appropriate support
  • address any concerns surrounding the sickness absence
  • communicate the standards of attendance expected as appropriate
A Return to Work meeting should happen after every sickness, even absences of 1 day

The role of the manager/supervisor is to be supportive and sympathetic towards the individual, balanced with an understanding of the needs of the service and should be conducted in an atmosphere of mutual trust. It is essential that confidentiality is respected.

We have a useful Toolkit for Managing Sickness Absence, which includes a checklist, guidance and sample questions to help managers/supervisors prepare for Return to Work meetings.


  • Meet in a place that is private without the risk of interruptions

  • Hold the meeting as soon as possible after the individuals returns to work

  • Bring relevant information and documentation including:
    • Individual’s attendance record
    • Department Sickness Absence Statistics
    • Current sickness absence monitoring details
    • Bradford factor
    • Sick Pay Information

  • Meeting should be a brief, informal conversation with the purpose of welcoming the individual back to work, completing required forms related to the absence, and to explore and identify other means of support to provide for the individual

  • If you will not be available for the meeting, you should ensure that appropriate deputising arrangements are in place in advance

Outcomes of the Return to Work Meeting

  • Phased Return and Temporary Adjustments to Duties (including Specialist Equipment) – These may be considered to support an early return to work. Your HR Adviser will be able to provide more information and guidance, in conjunction with Occupational Health, if appropriate.

    Note: A phased return would not normally be expected to last longer than 6 weeks and require the person to be back fulfilling their full hours and duties by the end of the phased return to work period.

  • Underlying problems identified – discuss with the individual and explore possible ways to support them to enable their return to work. You may wish to contact your HR Adviser Team for guidance.

  • Frequent short term or long-term absences causing concern – You may wish to contact your HR Adviser for guidance regarding capability procedures.