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How do I manage a return from sick leave?

We know that managing an employee’s return to work after sick leave can be just as challenging as managing their absence.

Someone returning to work after a physical injury or accident might require a very different approach to someone returning after a period of mental ill health. Make sure you know the latest medical advice for that employee, and their hours/duties etc but take great care with confidentiality – health information will be sensitive personal data.

An effective outcome will rely on your emotional intelligence, good people management and effective communication.

The line manager will be key. If they are part of the problem, this can’t be ignored and an appropriate plan will be required.

Communicate with the employee before their return date showing that first day back has been planned in some way. Always do a brief return to work meeting on the first day back, to at least cover the headlines of things they need to be aware of. Be careful not to overload on detail on day one.

Ensure the returning employee knows who they can go to if they need support or help as they settle back in.

Especially in the first few days, keep everything under review and be prepared to listen, support and adapt. But don’t stop there – for some employees who have been off for a long time it may take some months to be fully re-integrated. If you’ve invested in someone over a period of time, don’t give up on them at that point.

Do also watch our video:

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