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Do's and don'ts for keeping in touch

The guidance contained here was first published in 2004 and therefore makes no reference to the Fit Note. The majority of the guidance contained herein remains relevant, although readers will need to keep in mind the existence of the Fit Note in applying any potential recommendations.


  • Create a climate of trust by agreeing beforehand your methods, frequency and reasons for keeping in contact with absent employees;
  • Consider training for your managers on a sensitive approach to help them get the most out of contact;
  • Keep a note of contacts made;
  • Be flexible, treat each case individually but on a fair and consistent basis;
  • Welcome your employee back after their absence;
  • Carry out return to work interviews
  • Give your employees the opportunity to discuss, in private, concerns about their health or other matters that are affecting their performance or attendance;
  • Remember that medication can have side effects on things like physical stamina, mood, machinery operation and safety critical tasks.


  • Wait until someone is on long-term sick leave before taking action;
  • Delay making contact or pass responsibility to others unless there are sound reasons for doing so;
  • Make assumptions about your employee’s situation;
  • Say that colleagues are under pressure or that work is piling up;
  • Forget that recovery times for the same condition can vary significantly from person to person.
Updated 2015-09-23