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Supporting staff attendance

What you should do to prepare for an employee to return to work following a period of absence

​When an employee is absent from work for a period of time there are recommended steps that you can take as an employer to assist their return.

Use the links below to find information on supporting a return to work for your employees and support services that can help both you and your employees.

  1. 1. Supporting a return to work
  2. 2. Support employees with long term conditions
  3. 3. Manage the return to work process
  4. 4. Support services

3. Manage the return to work process

Prior to your employee returning from any 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 requirements of the Access to Medical Reports act 1988.

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.

Go to our accessing employee medical reports publications

Further advice on employment law

If you need advice on more complex absences and attendance issues you can access employment law information from ACAS.

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 the 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.

Use our return to work form