Absence Management & Return to Work

Return to work is a vital part of effective absence management and is also an ally against presenteeism.  Having the right processes in place when staff return is a huge step towards combating further sickness absence.

It’s important to understand why staff were off sick, but also to check they are well enough to return to work.

However it’s also vital to identify staff in need of support, for example if sickness absence is related to a disability, potential mental illness, or long term health condition.

Getting the return to work process right will ensure HR Managers have the information and statistics they need, but will also help employees feel supported and motivated to get back to work.

Return to work after a period of Short-Term Sickness Absence

Absence management is often straightforward for absences of seven days or less, however it is important to follow a standard absence management process whenever an employee returns to work.

For short-term absence, your employee is not legally required to submit evidence from their doctor.  Employees self-certify absence via a form.  Even when a ‘fit note’ is supplied, it is good practice to complete a self-certification of absence.

Activ Absence has an online self certification form built in, which employees are prompted to complete on their return to work.  This form can be tailored to suit your specific needs and there is no extra charge to do this.

Once completed, the form is forwarded to the relevant people (HR will decide who this should be).

This ensures that the Manager carrying out a return-to-work interview has all the information they need about the absence.  However, ahead of the interview, the Manager will also have visibility of previous absence information, and absence trends.


How can absence management data help?

By collecting and collating absence information from Return to Work interviews and self-certification forms, Activ Absence enables HR to build up a pattern of absence and set trigger point alerts to identify when staff are in need of support – or if absenteeism is suspected.

Of course, managers immediately think of absenteeism, but it is highly likely that other data will be equally useful.

Short term absence management data can also help Managers prioritise their employee wellness budgets.  Here’s just some ways that the powerful reporting tools can help:

  • Identify potential occupational manual handling risks where one department shows a high degree of injuries
  • Identify stress risks by department, which may show a need for management training
  • A high incidence of winter ‘flu could suggest a need for ‘flu jabs
  • Identify disability-related absence, allowing you to discuss a condition which an employee may not notice getting worse
  • Monitor high bradford factor scores
  • Identify ‘presentees’ who may come to work ill and infect the rest of the team


Activ Absence offers an easy way for managers to monitor, support and encourage their teams – what employer does not want that?