What is a return to work interview?


A return to work interview will be held with your line manager in school after a short period of absence. Return to work interviews will be informal meetings and can cover the reason for your absence and how your school can support your return. 

If you are absent just for one day, your school might decide not to conduct a return to work interview. You will want to check your school’s sickness absence policy for specific details at your setting.

We’ve written another article about the sickness absence management process in schools here.

In this article, we outline what to expect during a return to work interview and link to further information.

What can I expect during a return to work interview?

You will be asked during your first morning back to attend a return to work interview with your line manager or headteacher. This is usually conducted at the earliest opportunity in a private location.

The purpose of the return to work meeting is to confirm the reason for the absence and identify any support that can be provided to prevent a recurrence. You will also be able to raise any concerns you might have. Your line manager will also be able to update you with any changes which might have occurred in school.

Questions which could be asked include:

  • What was the reason for absence, is it a recurring issue or just a one-off absence?
  • Are you on any medication and did you see your GP?
  • Has anything work-related contributed to your absence?
  • Can the school support you in any way with your return?

You might be asked to complete your Local Authority’s return to work declaration form. If you have reached a trigger point (where the level of absence is a concern to the school) you should be notified of this in the return to work interview or shortly afterwards. 

Potentially you might be referred to occupational health if it is necessary. We’ve written another article here which provides a summary on the topic of occupational health.

School staff do not have the right to be accompanied for return to work interviews as they are informal meetings and there should be no risk to your employment.

If you are an Edapt subscriber, you can contact us for further support and advice if concerned with returning to school after a period of absence. ACAS has also published useful information on returning to work after time off.

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The information contained within this article is not a complete or final statement of the law.
While Edapt has sought to ensure that the information is accurate and up-to-date, it is not responsible and will not be held liable for any inaccuracies and their consequences, including any loss arising from relying on this information. This article may contain information sourced from public sector bodies and licensed under the Open Government Licence. If you are an Edapt subscriber with an employment-related issue, please contact us and we will be able to refer you to one of our caseworkers.