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HR Tip – Return to work interviews


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HRD & Payroll Solutions continues to bring HR Zone members a range of HR tips. This week’s tip looks at return to work interviews.

Q: We give people coming back to work after an unplanned absence a return to work interview. These are having a good effect on our absenteeism levels. If, during the interview, we have grounds for disbelieving the reason given by the employee for the absence, we issue a formal or final warning. Are we acting correctly in doing this?

A: No, you are not. You are doing the right thing by giving people a return to work interview as this is probably the most effective means of getting absenteeism levels down.

During the interview you ask questions to determine among other things whether or not the reason for the absence was genuine and as such the exercise is essentially one of investigation. If you have reason to doubt the employee’s account, then you have grounds for taking disciplinary action, but this must be done as a separate exercise.

When the return to work interview has ended give the employee a note stating that you are not satisfied with the reason given for the absence and that he or she is therefore required to attend a formal disciplinary hearing to deal with the matter. You should give at least two days notice of this meeting and indicate that the employee has the right to be accompanied by a work colleague or by a full-time trade union official.

Regardless of the complaint or incident, you must always carry out a full investigation before deciding whether or not to conduct a disciplinary hearing.

Previous HR tips

Recording disciplinary meetings
Developing women managers
A promotion that failed
Fixing holidays
Holiday for temporary employees
A redundancy problem
Behaviour outside work
Suspension from work
Informing employees of new legislation
Deductions from wages
Children on site
Workplace affairs
Disabled workers
Attitude problems
Redundancy selection
Custom and practice
Working Bank holidays
Disciplinary and dismissal procedures
Time off work for funerals
Translating rules
Banning smoking at work
Burden of proof
Contracts of employment

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