Learn about the return-to-work journey: a guide to absence management and fit-to-work assessments

Learn about the return-to-work journey: a guide to absence management and fit-to-work assessments

Return-to-work management might not be a legal requirement but by facilitating a smooth transition back to work employers can minimise productivity loss and reduce the risk of prolonged absences. In this blog we will give you an insight into fit-to-work assessments, return-to-work interviews and how to best support your workers in returning to work.

What is a fit-to-work assessment?

A fit-to-work assessment is a crucial component of the return-to-work process. This medical evaluation aims to determine an employee’s physical and mental readiness to resume work duties. It involves a comprehensive examination by a qualified healthcare professional to assess an individual’s ability to perform their job safely and effectively. Fit-to-work assessments cover a wide range of illnesses and injuries, from physical injuries requiring rehabilitation to mental health conditions requiring specialist support. By conducting these assessments, organisations can tailor their return-to-work strategies to meet the unique needs of each employee, and make informed decisions about workplace accommodations, job modifications or additional support measures.

What is a return-to-work interview?

A return-to-work interview is a personalised discussion between an employee and an organisational representative, typically human resources professionals, line managers or occupational health specialists. This conversation enables employers to gain insights into the employee’s recovery journey, identify any lingering concerns and collaboratively devise strategies to ensure a successful return to the workplace. Moreover, these conversations build trust and demonstrate a genuine commitment to employee well-being.

During a return-to-work interview, asking the right questions is key to gaining a comprehensive understanding of the employee’s situation. Some common questions you can ask are:

  1. How are you feeling about returning to work?
  2. Are there any specific concerns or challenges you anticipate?
  3. Do you require any accommodations or modifications to your work environment?
  4. What support mechanisms would be helpful for your successful return?
  5. How can we make this transition as smooth as possible for you?

What to do if an employee struggles

Even though an employee feels ready to come back, they may face challenges upon returning. Workers can often experience physical limitations, anxiety or a lack of confidence. To support struggling employees, employers can:

Provide flexibility: offering flexible work arrangements or modified duties can ease the transition for employees facing physical or mental health challenges.

Access external support: encourage employees to seek support from occupational health professionals, counsellors or other relevant experts to address their concerns.

Regular check-ins: Maintain open lines of communication through regular check-ins to assess progress, address concerns and adjust support measures as needed.

Get expert support from MOHS

Effective absence management and return-to-work processes are essential elements of creating a healthy and productive work environment. As a leading occupational health provider, we can provide you with expert guidance in absence management, fit-to-work assessments and return-to-work interviews. By partnering with us, you can oversee the return-to-work journey with confidence. Contact us today at info@mohs.co.uk or give us a call on 0121 601 4041.

To find out more about what we do visit: https://mohs.co.uk/