What are the Benefits of Return-to Work Interviews?

  • HR Policies
Kiljon Shukullari

Kiljon Shukullari, HR Advisory Manager

(Last updated )

Return-to-work interviews are a common practice among Canadian employers to manage employee absences and support their staff returning from leave. A return-to-work interview can have several benefits, such as identifying issues, promoting employee engagement, and creating a supportive work environment.

Return-to-work interviews allow employers to show their employees that they care about their well-being and are interested in their health and recovery. By conducting these interviews, employers can gather important information about the reasons for the absence, offer support and assistance where needed, and take steps to prevent future absences.

In this article, we will take a closer look at the pros and cons of return-to-work interviews and explore how employers can conduct effective interviews while balancing the needs of their employees and the organization.

What are return-to-work interviews?

A return-to-work interview is a one-on-one meeting between an employee and their supervisor or manager. The interview takes place after the employee has been absent from work due to illness, injury, or personal reasons.

During the interview, the employer can ask the employee about the reasons for their absence, whether they require any assistance or support, and whether there are any adjustments that need to be made to help the employee ease back into their work. The employer can also use the interview to offer any support or assistance that may be required and to address any issues that may have contributed to the employee’s absence.

What are the benefits of a return-to-work interview?

A return-to-work interview can provide numerous benefits to employers. Here are some of the key advantages of conducting these interviews:

Reduced absenteeism

Absenteeism is a major problem for employers, resulting in lost productivity and increased costs. Return-to-work interviews can help reduce absenteeism by identifying the reasons for the absence and taking steps to address any issues that may have contributed to it.

For example, if an employee has been absent due to stress or burnout, the employer can use the interview to discuss ways to manage their workload or to provide additional support or training to help them cope with the demands of their job.

Improve employee engagement

A return-to-work interview can help improve employee engagement by demonstrating to employees that their employer cares about their well-being and is interested in their health and recovery. This can help create a more positive workplace culture and increase employee loyalty and commitment.

By offering support and assistance to employees who have been absent, employers can also build stronger relationships with their employees and create a more inclusive and supportive work environment.

Identify and address workplace issues

Return-to-work interviews can be used to identify and address workplace issues that may be contributing to absenteeism. For example, if an employee has been absent due to workplace harassment or bullying, the employer can use the interview to investigate the issue and take appropriate action to address it.

By identifying and addressing these issues, employers can create a safer and more respectful workplace, which can help reduce absenteeism and improve employee morale and engagement.

Improve communication

A return-to-work interview can help improve communication between employees and their managers or supervisors. By discussing the reasons for the absence, you gain a better understanding of the employee’s situation and can offer appropriate support.

This helps build stronger relationships between employees and their managers or supervisors, which can improve communication and collaboration in the workplace.

Provide opportunities for training and development

A return-to-work interview can help identify opportunities for employee training and upskilling, especially if the employee has been on long-term leave. It can also help employers connect returning staff to company resources that may help with employee wellness.

What are some of the drawbacks of return-to-work interviews?


Return-to-work interviews can be time-consuming for both the employee and the employer, especially if there are many employees who have been absent. This can take away time and resources that could be used for other business-related activities.

Potentially uncomfortable

Some employees may find return-to-work interviews uncomfortable or invasive, especially if they have been absent due to personal or medical reasons. This can create a negative experience for the employee and potentially impact their relationship with the employer. It is important that employers are aware of employee rights and privacy laws when discussing sensitive matters.

Not always effective

Return-to-work interviews may not always be effective in identifying the root cause of an absence or addressing any issues that arise. In some cases, employees may not feel comfortable sharing their thoughts and feelings or may not be aware of the issues that are affecting them.

Best practices for conducting return-to-work interviews

If you do decide to implement return-to-work interviews, it is important to follow best practices. The following are some key best practices for conducting return-to-work interviews:

Be prepared

Before conducting a return-to-work interview, the employer should review the employee’s file and any relevant documentation, such as medical notes or sick leave records. This will help the employer understand the reasons for the absence and identify any issues that need to be addressed during the interview.

Be supportive

A return-to-work interview should be conducted in a supportive and non-judgmental manner. The employer should demonstrate empathy and concern for the employee’s well-being and offer support and assistance where needed.

Be respectful of privacy

Employers should respect the employee’s privacy during a return-to-work interview. Any information shared during the interview should be kept confidential and only shared on a need-to-know basis.

Focus on solutions

A return-to-work interview should focus on identifying solutions and taking action to address any issues that may have contributed to the employee’s absence. The employer should work with the employee to develop a plan for their return to work and provide any necessary support or accommodations.

Follow up

After the return-to-work interview, the employer should follow up with the employee to ensure that they are settling back into their work and to address any issues that may arise. This can help ensure that the employee is fully supported and able to perform their job to the best of their ability.

When implemented effectively, return-to-work interviews can help support employees, create a positive workplace environment, and improve productivity and engagement. But they also have some potential drawbacks. Employers should carefully consider the pros and cons and decide if conducting return-to-work interviews is appropriate for their organization.

Need help figuring out HR best practices for your workplace?

To ensure that a return-to-work interview is effective, employers should follow best practices, such as being prepared, being supportive, respecting privacy, focusing on solutions, and following up. By doing so, you can create a workplace environment that is safe, productive, and supportive, and that contributes to the success of your company.

Our experts can help you develop company policies as well as any HR, health and safety, or employment advice you may need. To learn more about how our services can help keep your business compliant with provincial legislation, call an expert today at 1 (833) 247-3652

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