Renfrewshire Council

Returning to work after being sick

What a return to work meeting is, phased return, unable to return to normal working pattern and returning before your fit note runs out.

Return to work meeting 

Your manager will arrange a return to work meeting with you as soon as possible after every sickness absence. They will add the details of the return to work meeting to Business World.   

The return to work meeting allows your manager to:  

  • confirm your return to work and welcome you back 
  • make sure you are fit and ready to return to work, given the medical advice you've been given 
  • discuss in detail the reason for your sickness absence 
  • agree on any advice, support or reasonable workplace adjustments needed 
  • consider if a referral to any support services such as Occupational Health (OH) and the Counselling Service should be arranged 
  • discuss any work updates that happened during your sickness absence. 

Your manager will also discuss any concerns they may have about your most recent absence. 

Your manager may seek advice from HR&OD to decide what action to take. For example, you may be referred to Occupational Health for further medical advice. 

At the meeting your manager will let you know if they'll invite you to an absence review meeting and what will happen next. 

Phased return to work  

Your manager may agree a phased return to work for you, of up to 4 paid weeks in any calendar year. This is normally offered when it is advised by Occupational Health or your GP.  It can also be helpful when returning from sickness absence which is: 

  • long term 
  • disability related 
  • related to a terminal illness 
  • linked to a difficult experience or life event.   

You and your manager will agree a gradual build up to your normal work hours, days and duties to support your specific needs, for up to 4 weeks. 

If a phased return to work longer than 4 working weeks is recommended by Occupational Health, you may agree with your manager to use annual leave for the hours or days you do not work. This will make sure you receive full pay. 

The same approach will apply for any additional phased return to work periods you may need later in the same calendar year. 

Recording phased return to work on Business World and Imperago 

All phased return days must be recorded on Business World as Special Leave. You'll also need to record it on Imperago if you use the flexitime system in your role. 

If you cannot return to normal working pattern 

If you're unable to return to your normal working pattern after your phased return, your manager may agree to some flexibility with your work pattern for a temporary period of time or suggest that you consider a flexible working application, if your role can accommodate this.   

Returning to work before your fit note runs out  

You can ask your GP or healthcare professional if returning to work would be suitable.  

They can add practical advice about what you can do at work and the support you may need. This advice should be shared with your manager to see if they can make any changes to help you return to work. 

Your manager may also need to ask for Occupational Health advice on your fitness for work and any appropriate assistance you may need. 

This may help your line manager to agree temporary support to allow you to return to work sooner, such as: 

  • adjusting your daily duties so they are easier to manage or avoid you working alone  
  • considering risk assessed alternative duties 
  • adjusting your start and finish times 
  • varying your work location. 

If you and your manager are comfortable that you are not putting your health at risk, you are well enough, and the right support is in place, then you can choose to return to work before your fit note runs out. 

There may be certain situations where early support is not suitable, for example some mental health conditions, addictions which need more specialist support, or where there is a medical treatment plan already in place, such as recovery from surgery or serious illness. Your manager can get advice from HR&OD on whether early support is suitable.

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