Supporting staff attendance

Information on how to manage the return to work of an enmployee

Manage the return to work process

Prior to your employee returning from an absence, you should have had contact with them to discuss planning their return to work. You may create a support plan based on these discussions. This includes the discussion and implementation of any reasonable adjustments that could be supported to facilitate a safe, healthy and sustained return to work.

When they return to work, it is recommended that, on their first day back, you have a return to work meeting with them. This gives an opportunity for the employee to provide you with any health updates they may have.

You can use this meeting to make sure that any reasonable adjustments agreed in the support plan are still suitable and sufficient. You can also verify with the employee that they agree to the plan.

Your employee may have a fit note from their GP that also outlines what support they may need for the return to work. Alternatively, you may have requested, with the employee’s consent, further information on their health condition from their GP or from an occupational health specialist.

Getting a medical report

To access medical information you will need your employee’s explicit written consent. You should provide the employee with information on your need to comply with the requirements of the Access to Medical Reports act 1988 (external link).

Make sure your employees are familiar with your:

  • attendance management policy
  • absence procedures

You should be consistent when deciding if and when to obtain a medical report. You should also identify and record the purpose of obtaining a medical report.

Other things it is important to remember include:

  • familiarising yourself with and following data protection principles
  • asking only relevant questions related to the employee’s health condition and their fitness for work
  • providing the GP with relevant information about the workplace and employee to provide a full picture of the role

We have created a guidance document and a template you can use to help you with this process.

Further advice on employment law

If you need advice on more complex absences and attendance issues, you can access employment law information from ACAS (external site).

Return to work form

We have created a form you can use to help you effectively manage the return to work process.

It has space to record the discussion with your employee. You can also record details of any reasonable adjustments that you have both agreed to.

Reasonable adjustments will vary from person to person, even if they have the same health condition. That’s why having a discussion with your employee is important.

Examples of reasonable adjustments that you may wish to consider to help an employee return to work include:

  • alter their role on a temporary or permanent basis
  • offer them a phased return (including amended hours)
  • adapt their working environment
  • increase support and supervision

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