How to manage the return-to-work process (manufacturing)
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How to manage the return-to-work process (manufacturing)

Return-to-work process (manufacturing)


Returning to work after an absence can be a daunting time for employees as they could experience anxiety and could be nervous when coming back into a manufacturing setting.

Having an effective return to work process not only means that you can facilitate a duty of care to your employees but also reduce persistent absences in the future.


Regular contact is important

  • Commination is key, this helps employee’s feel the employer has the employee best interest at heart and keeps them both update with any progress.
  • Monitor the absence, make sure it is certified by the GP (if over 8 days) and if necessary, request a doctor’s report to have a better understanding of the absence/illness and talk about options to return.
  • Before allowing your employee to return to work always ensure that their GP has signed them as ‘fit for work’.
  • When your employee is ready to return to work hold a meeting to discuss. You may consider a staged return such as a reduction in hours/days. You might also consider a reduction in workload or light duties. This can be addressed using our Occupational Health service.
  • Agree on a plan that works for both the employer and employee to maintain a harmonious and efficient working environment.

What should be addressed in the return-to-work meeting?


  • Any training required
  • Any changes in the workplace
  • If the employee has any concerns they want to raise
  • If the employee considers themselves to have a disability
  • If adjustments need to be made
  • You should also take note of any support you offered to the employee

For clients of Wurkplace, we can provide a return to work form that you can complete within the meeting to ensure all points are addressed and documented

Phased return to work


A phased return to work may be reasonable for particular employees when returning to work.

A phased return to work is where an employee can stagger how they return to work.

This can be reduced hours in a day over the working week or working less days in the week for example three days a week instead of five.

A phased return to work does not have a set time period as each case is unique however they usually last 4-6 weeks.

Phased returns can also relate to duties. For example, there may be some employees whose medication means that they must undertake lighter physical duties for a period of time.

The recommendation usually comes from an occupational health team or a GP but in some circumstances the employee themselves can request it.

The following options may be considered when looking at pay:


  • Return the employee to full pay once they commence their phased return;
  • Pay the employee for the hours they work, and ‘top-up’ the rest of the time with Statutory Sick Pay (SSP);
  • Pay the employee for the hours they work and ‘top-up’ the rest of the time with Occupational Sick Pay (OSP); and
  • Agree with the employee that they may use accrued holiday to top up their pay when they are not working.

There is no set protocol when it comes to pay on a phased return to work however, whatever is agreed between the employer and the employee, the employer must confirm the arrangement in writing to the employee.

Several laws are relevant when managing sick leave and return to work.

These include the Equality Act, the Employment Rights Act and the Health and Safety at Work etc Act.

These should be addressed and implemented within your policies to ensure that you are adhering to the law.


How Wurkplace can help


Here at Wurkplace, we have experienced and skilled consultants who are able to provide you with specific recruitment advice along with supplying an array of template documents, so half the work is done for you!

If you need support or guidance, talk to one of our experts today – You can use our easy online contact form, or give us a call on: 0330 400 5490.


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