We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. You can change your cookie settings at any time. Otherwise, we'll assume you're OK to continue.

Durham University

Human Resources & Organisational Development

Return to Work Meetings

Guidelines for a Return to Work Meeting


  • To welcome the employee back to work
  • To ensure the employee is fully fit to return to work
  • To identify the reason for the absence and confirm the length of absence
  • To identify and address any problem (work-related or otherwise) that may be causing or contributing to the absence
  • To discuss and/or identify any adjustments to the workplace/hours/duties that may reduce/eliminate absences
  • To agree the priorities for the post absence period and to up-date the employee

The meeting must be held in private and must be handled in a sensitive, professional and competent manner.


  • Ensure you have the right information available
  • Check records for both current and previous absences in Oracle Cloud
  • Be prepared to discuss any trends or patterns of absence
  • Remember THIS IS NOT A DISCIPLINARY HEARING - you are trying to establish facts.
  • Approach the meeting with an open mind and no prejudgements.


  • The core of this process is to discuss the absence
  • Try to determine the cause of the absence
  • Listen to what is being said
  • Is the cause work related?
  • Could adjustments to the workplace/hours/duties reduce/eliminate absences?
  • Are there any other problems contributing to the absence
  • Place current absence in the context of previous absences
  • Be sensitive to employees feelings where personal problems and illnesses are involved
  • Where there is conflicting evidence/statements, ask for an explanation
  • Discuss the effect of the absence on the employee's work colleagues
  • Warn the employee that frequent intermittent absence may trigger the University's associated Absence Management Procedure.


Make a written note of the meeting and place it on the employee's personnel file.