It can be one of the most challenging scenarios a human resources department can face: Bringing an employee back to work after an injury or illness. Before getting your employee back on board, it’s important to make you’re following these simple steps.
Determine whether an employee is healthy enough to return to work.
There is no doubt that the primary concern is for the employee’s well-being, but managers and supervisors also have a responsibility to reduce risk. Bringing someone back too quickly may yield potential exposure to the organization. What if the employee reinjures herself? What if she’s not able to perform her job duties safely?
One of the best ways to evaluate whether an employee is healthy enough to return to work is to document the essential job duties and the necessary qualifications or abilities associated with that position. Once documented, ask the employee to provide a physician’s note indicating whether he can perform the duties listed with or without restrictions.
Decide whether a modified duty or an accommodation can be made to facilitate the employee’s return.
If an employee is eligible to return with specific limitations to perform some of his essential job duties, it’s the employer’s job to decide if the employee can be brought back on restricted duty and if reasonable accommodations are necessary.
For example, a cashier at a store who is returning to work has a doctor’s note stating that while they can operate the register, the person shouldn’t be on their feet for more than an hour at a time. In this
Document, Document, Document!
The importance of documenting all communications with an employee cannot be overstated. One of the challenges of documenting all of these steps is that sometimes these conversations may take place over the phone or even in person. If an employee calls to go over their plan to return to work, it’s important that their human resource professional follows up with an email or a letter confirming what was stated. It can be as easy as the following:
“Dear Bob: It was great to talk to you this afternoon and I’m glad to hear you’re feeling better after your surgery and feel up to coming back to work. As we discussed, before you can come back we’ll need a note from your physician clearing you for the duties listed
While you can’t predict every incident, you can always prepare for one. For every organization, it’s only a matter of time before one or more employees experience an extended sickness or injury. That’s why it makes sense to create a return-to-work policy and share it with your employees before