Returning to work after a sick leave

If you or an employee is ready to return to work after taking sick leave, most companies would already have a procedure in place that they follow. Before returning to work, check your workplace absence policy for short- to long-term absences. Perhaps your company requires employees who can tackle absence issues within the workplace. Our interim management recruitment services can help with this.

How To Respond To Employees Returning After A Long-Term Absence

When dealing with an employee who is due to return to work after a long-term absence, it is essential that you are supportive and available to help as a manager. This can ultimately decipher a good manager from a bad one, and having a trusting and caring relationship with your employees will improve productivity in the workplace.

When you are looking to reintroduce an employee back into the company after such a long absence, the best thing to do is meet with them. It would be a great way to talk with your employees to see how they are getting on and if there is anything worrying them. Ultimately, however, you will need to discuss the process of coming back to work. A few things that would be beneficial to discuss are as the following:

1. Is The Employee Ready To Return To Work?

Please discuss with the employee what it might mean for their life when returning to work. Depending on the severity of their sickness, it’s best to understand their well-being clearly and outline what strengths will be required of them once they return.

2. Make reasonable adjustments

Regarding the above statement, you could consider adjusting their role to allow them an easier transition back into the workplace. Adjusting their role could look like this:

●        Change in working hours

●        Workstation or work equipment

●        Change in tasks or duties

3. Discuss any changes made in the workplace whilst they were off

Whether your employee has been off for one week to one year, it is essential to update them in depth with the changes that may have occurred at work. You don’t want to send them blindly back into a space they won’t be familiar with. Re-learning and new processes may take some time, but with the proper handbooks and updated work placement guidelines, your employee should fit back in no time.

4. Does The Employee Have Any Recommendations From Their Doctor?

It could be a good idea to get your employee (if they haven’t already) to speak with their doctor to receive any recommendations that could help them return to work or, more importantly, if any precautions must be taken in the process.

5. Work out a plan that works both for employer and employee

As this conversation comes to an end, you should use this time to work out a plan that works for you both. This agreement should surround the basis of plans such as; introducing a phased return to work plan or perhaps working remotely etc.


Creating a positive back-to-work plan with employees who have had the unfortunate luck of taking a long-term sick leave will boost morale across the company. Being active with the support you are willing to give as a manager to your employees shows excellent leadership and sets the standard for those to follow.

Consider the previous comments when welcoming back employees and intertwine those personal factors that show strength between the two of you. Returning after sick leave should be done without the anxieties of what’s to come. Remove those stresses and create a space that’s supportive and welcoming.