Need a new HRIS? Our new buyer’s guide is packed with all the things you need to know. Get your free guide now

Return-to-work policy template

The return-to-work policy outlines the procedures and conditions under which employees are allowed to return to work after a prolonged absence due to illness, injury, or other personal circumstances.

The return-to-work policy template serves as a comprehensive guide, ensuring a consistent and structured approach to managing employees’ return to work. This minimizes potential misunderstandings, fosters a supportive workplace environment, and ensures compliance with legal requirements.

What is the return to work policy?

A Return to Work Policy is a formal set of guidelines set by an organization to assist employees who have been absent from work for an extended period, ensuring they reintegrate into their roles effectively and safely. This policy aims to provide a clear structure for both the employer and the employee, detailing the necessary steps and considerations required during the return-to-work process.

It emphasizes collaboration, understanding, and flexibility, ensuring that employees are given the necessary support and resources to transition back into their roles while considering their well-being and any potential adjustments or accommodations that might be required.

A Return to Work policy should include:

Clear criteria for eligibility: Define who can avail of this policy, whether it’s after medical leave, maternity leave, or other types of extended absences.
Procedure for notification: Outline how an employee should notify their intent to return, including any necessary documentation like medical certificates.
Roles and responsibilities: Specify the roles of HR, managers, and the returning employee in the process.
Adjustments and accommodations: Detail possible workplace accommodations or adjustments that can be made for the returning employee, if necessary.

Why is it important to have a Return to Work policy for your organization?

Having a Return to Work policy is crucial for organizations as it demonstrates a commitment to employee well-being and ensures a smooth transition for those returning after extended absences. It reduces potential legal risks by ensuring compliance with employment laws and minimizes productivity loss by providing a structured approach to reintegrating employees. Furthermore, it enhances organizational reputation, emphasizing a supportive and understanding workplace culture.

Accommodations that can be implemented for an employee’s return to work include options like flexible work schedules, designated rest areas, adaptable workspaces, and the possibility of telecommuting according to MH National. The Job Accommodation Network (JAN) states that more than half of these accommodations come at no expense to employers. In cases where there is a cost involved, the average one-time expenditure amounts to $300. This demonstrates their remarkable cost-effectiveness, especially when contrasted with the expenses of hiring and training a new employee.

Step by step instructions to write your own return to work policy

1. Understand legal requirements: Research local employment laws to ensure your policy is compliant. For example, in the U.S., consider the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).
2. Consult with key stakeholders: Engage with managers, team leaders, and even some employees to understand their perspectives and needs.
3. Draft the policy: Start with the purpose and scope of the policy. For instance, “This policy applies to all employees returning after a medical absence of more than 30 days.”
4. Include detailed procedures: Specify the notification process, such as “Employees should inform HR at least two weeks before their intended return date and provide a medical fitness certificate.”
5. Outline support mechanisms: Describe any training or counseling services available, e.g., “Employees can avail of a one-week refresher course upon return.”
6. Review and revise: After drafting, review the policy with legal counsel or an HR specialist to ensure completeness and compliance.

Return to work policy template

Company: [Organization Name]

1. Purpose and scope

This policy is designed to provide a structured and supportive approach for employees of [Organization Name] returning to work after an extended absence.

2. Eligibility

All employees returning after a medical or personal leave of more than 30 days are covered under this policy.

3. Notification procedure

Employees should inform the HR department at least two weeks before their intended return date. A medical fitness certificate, where applicable, must be submitted.

4. Roles and responsibilities

HR: Oversee the return process, provide necessary resources, and ensure compliance.
Managers: Collaborate with HR and provide support to the returning employee.
Employee: Notify intent to return and engage in any required training or counseling.

5. Adjustments and Accommodations:

[Organization Name] is committed to making necessary adjustments to ensure the successful reintegration of our employees. This might include modified work hours, ergonomic adjustments, or additional training.

6. Review

This policy will be reviewed annually to ensure its effectiveness and relevance.

Disclaimer: This policy template is meant to provide general guidelines and should be used as a reference. It may not take into account all relevant local, state or federal laws and is not a legal document. Neither the author nor Workable will assume any legal liability that may arise from the use of this policy.

Frequently asked questions

Related Company Policies

Let's grow together

Explore our full platform with a 15-day free trial.
Post jobs, get candidates and onboard employees all in one place.

Start a free trial