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Return to work interview

Managers conducting a return to work interview should adopt the WARM approach:

  • Welcome
  • Absence
  • Responsibility
  • Move forward


  • Welcome the employee and ensure they understand the purpose of the meeting
  • Ask how they are feeling and tell them that you are glad to see them back and that they have been missed


  • Discuss the current absence including the number of hours lost
  • Confirm that the employee is fit to return
  • Establish the reasons, but do not pressure the employee as they are not obliged to provide in-depth information – just an overview. If stress related, discuss the causes and any action that can be taken to resolve issue or prevent stress in the future, develop an action plan and undertake stress risk assessment
  • Establish how leave will be taken if it is not due to an illness or injury. Refer to the special leave policy (if appropriate)
  • Acceptance of medical certificate
  • Are there any problems or underlying medical causes that you need to be aware of or can deduce from absence information?
  • Is advice from Occupational Health needed? If so, explain the referral process
  • Explore with the employee any support that can be offered or provided.
  • Discuss their absence record for the previous 12 months and highlight any concerns that you may have or any trends that may be apparent
  • Explain how the absence record compares to Trust trigger levels and the operational difficulties caused or the effect on services the absence has


  • Praise the employee for their previous good record (if appropriate)
  • Explain need for improvement
  • Explore what could be done to improve attendance
  • If formal action triggered, advise the employee that you will be inviting them to a sickness absence review meeting in accordance with relevant stage of the Trust policy and procedure (if appropriate)
  • Get the employee to take responsibility for their absence and recognise the need for improvement
  • Express your confidence in the employee to improve

Move forward

  • Explore whether there is any additional support that can be provided to enable improvement
  • Give updates as to the work place and provide any information that the employee may have missed
  • Summarise what has been discussed and close the meeting on a positive note
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