Managing sick leave and return to work

Someone's ability to do their job can be affected by health conditions, whether or not they are caused by work.

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.

Employers should have policies and procedures on managing sick leave. You should develop these in consultation with workers and their representatives. 

You should also:

  • record and monitor sick leave to help you identify trends and manage risk
  • train your managers how to manage sick leave and return to work
  • keep in contact with workers who are off sick, ensuring the conversation remains focused on their health, safety and wellbeing and their return to work
  • consider making workplace adjustments to help workers return to work. This could include shorter hours, flexible or part-time working, or adapting work equipment
  • review your health and safety risk assessment where:
    • a worker's health condition makes them or others more vulnerable to workplace risks
    • the impact of the workplace adjustments could affect the work and health of others
  • get professional advice on issues such as fitness to work or workplace adjustments, for example from:
    • occupational health providers
    • nurses
    • occupational therapists
    • pharmacists
    • physiotherapists
    • doctors

Help with managing sick leave and return to work

  • ACAS

    ACAS has guidance on sick leave management, fitness for work and developing sick leave policy

  • EHRC guidance on adjustments for disabled people

    Equality and Human Rights Commission guidance for employers on reasonable adjustments for disabled people in the workplace

  • Access to Work

    Get support in work if you have a disability or health condition (Access to Work)

  • Fit note: guidance for employers and line managers

    Using Fit Notes to help reduce the time workers are off sick

  • CIPD

    The professional body for human resource and people development is CIPD. They offer training and fact sheets to help develop an approach to sickness absence management

  • Equality Act 2010

    Information and guidance on the Equality Act 2010, including age discrimination and public sector Equality Duty

  • Disability Confident employer scheme and guidance

    For guidance on employing disabled people, read about the Disability Confident employer scheme

  • Employment Law

    Acas resources to help you address employment law issues at work


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