Line managers need to be confident and competent for return-to-work interviews to have the greatest impact, according to a report published exclusively on XpertHR.
Nearly half (48%) of employers thought that their organisations did not use return-to-work interviews consistently and many blamed this failure on the shortcomings of line management.
Rachel Suff, author of the report, said: “Some of the problems relating to line managers’ competence in carrying out return-to-work interviews are surmountable if employers are able to offer effective training.”
Top reasons for failure to conduct return-to-work interviews:
The majority (94%) of employers said they conducted return-to-work interviews with employees who had been off sick, and more than two-thirds (68%) reported that their organisations’ absence rates had fallen as a result.
The report also found that many companies did not use different approaches for different types of absences. Four in five employers used the same procedures for conducting return-to-work interviews whether the absence was long-term or short-term, and more than three-quarters did so when the employee had been absent due to a disability.
According to XpertHR guidance, employers should distinguish between sickness absence and disability-related leave in relation to return-to-work interviews and any disciplinary consequences.
Suff added: “It may be better for an employer to agree with each employee who has a disability what is relevant. This means an individual with a known condition, who is diligent at all other times, need not be subjected to repeat return-to-work interviews if they are not necessary.”
The 2010 XpertHR survey on return-to-work interviews looked at 166 organisations.