23+ Free Return to Work Form Templates (MS Word)

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You have to submit a return to work form upon your return after taking a leave of absence from the organization your work in. Managers must acknowledge his period of absence. After that, discuss it when they return to work. Sometimes, you may have a light conversation with your manager while in some cases you have to submit a return to work letter.

What is a return to work form?

After taking personal or medical leave, you may have to submit a back to work form before you return. In some cases, you just have to submit a doctor’s release form. It is a written authorization given by your healthcare provider. However, before employees can come back to work, most companies would require their employees to present a return to work form.

This form has information about the ability of the employee to return to his work and whether he/she is able to fulfill all of his responsibilities. It also specifies any considerations and restrictions on his normal duties. If an employee comes back without this form then you must send him back until he fulfills all of the requirements.

Moreover, the employee must contact the HR department to confirm his attendance as soon as he/she returns to work. The employee also has to submit additional documentation for the reinstating of his benefits in case an employee takes extended leave.

What is a return to work interview?

As its name implies, a return to work interview is a formal meeting between an employer and the employee when he/she returns to work after a leave. In this meeting, the employer acknowledge the employee’s intention to return to work as well as a technique to identify the most appropriate return to work plan for the employee.

Tips for facilitating effective return to work interview:

The manager or employer should consider the following tips to facilitate an effective return to work interview;

Before the interview

  • The manager or employer should review the attendance record of the employee over the year and the attached return to work interview notes. This way, manager decides how to support the employee for making the return to work plan.
  • To structure the interview, it would be beneficial to use a return to work interview form template. You should also have to maintain a two-way communication throughout the entire process.
  • A selected meeting place should be comfortable for both the employer and the employee.

During the interview

  • During the interview, you as a manager keep in mind that your main aim is to support the employee in his/her return to work.
  • Take the notes of the employee previous return to work interviews and discuss them with employee.
  • Ask the employee a reason of absence. Make sure to provide the employee a chance to highlight any relevant issues.
  • Identify whether there are any personal or work-relevant issues that might affect their attendance.
  • Ask the employee whether he/she requires any reasonable adjustment to their role or work environment.
  • It would better to remind the employee of the mutual responsibilities. You can say that it is the responsibility of the individual to attend the work and as an employer it’s your duty to concern for employee’s wellbeing.

After the interview

  • When the action plan has been agreed by both parties, then they should sign the return to work form. Make sure that these details remain confidential.
  • You should determine particular actions and let the responsible task owners about their duties.
  • In case, employee has any issues following the return to work plan then be available to talk with him or her.

Can an employer need a doctor’s note to return to work?

This usually depends on the circumstances that prompted the request as well as on the policies of the company. In case, there is a policy that the employee must submit a doctor’s note or a doctor release form then he has to comply. Here are the different types of leaves and whether or not you have to submit a doctor’s note for them;

Americans with Disabilities Act or ADA

In this situation, employers may request for a doctor’s note from their employees. For the purpose of learning more about the disability, the ADA allows employers to ask for relevant information from the employee’s doctor or healthcare provider. By having this information, the employer can identify whether he has to enhance the ADA disability level when the impairment isn’t apparent.

Additionally, to learn more about any accommodation possibilities and functional limitations of the employee, the employer can use the information provided by the doctor. The employer has to only limit his inquiries to the employee’s circumstances that require accommodation.

Family and Medical Leave Act or FMLA

In this type of situation, the employers have the right to request for a doctor’s note. To support the need for an FMLA leave, employers can need their employees to acquire a certification from their healthcare provider. A consequent request for this note is also referred to as a rectification request.

Every 6 months or under specific circumstances, employers are allowed to make this request. In addition, after an FMLA leave, if an employee returns to work, the employer may also ask for a fitness-for-duty document. This document confirms that whether or not the employee is fit to go back to work.

Sick leave

Employers may request for a doctor’s note along with the return to work form in case it is a part of their attendance policy. However, they have to apply this practice consistently meaning to all of their employees. The doctor’s note doesn’t have to mention the employee’s diagnosis or medical condition.

The confirmation that a professional healthcare provider like doctor treated the employee is more important information. It should also include any period of restrictions or incapacity relevant to the employee’s work.

The employer can be in violation of certain laws if an employer requests for more information than this particularly when the employee isn’t comfortable sharing such information. Therefore, both employer and employee should acquaint themselves with the laws and restrictions regarding sick leaves.

Worker’s compensation

An employer can generally request for this document following an illness or injury that’s work-related.

Can an employee return to work with restrictions?

While at work, if an employee sustains an injury, then before returning to his normal duties and responsibilities, the employer may want the injury to heal completely. He shouldn’t need any restrictions until he has fully recovered. Unfortunately, this may lead to a violation of the ADA as it is a dangerous practice.

Under the ADA, the employees should receive reasonable accommodations or restrictions in their workplace. Here are some tips that employers must keep in mind in order to avoid any problems.

Let the employee’s healthcare provider know of his basic job duties

In most cases, the healthcare providers and physicians aren’t informed of their job duties and workplace conditions of their patients. That’s why, it is essential to let them know regarding the basic job duties and the working environment of the employee. Regarding any work restrictions or limitations for the employee, this would makes the healthcare provider able to provide the employer with adequate information.

Consider providing the employee lighter tasks or alternative duties

You may have to consider assigning him with lighter tasks or alternative duties at least of the time being in case an employee returns to work with restrictions. The employee can go back to performing his basic duties when the employee has healed completely.

Give your employee with proper workplace accommodations

You have to follow them as an employer in case an employee displays a return to work form along with a doctor’s release form but with restrictions. This is particularly true if the restrictions are due to a temporary disability. If required, talk to the employee’s physician as to what kind of accommodations your employee may need.

What is the significance of a return to work form?

Filling out a return to work form is an important tool for companies to understand their employees. They also use this form to determine any patterns in absences and ways to support their employees. This document also proves very useful to reduce absenteeism in the long-run. Here is some other benefits of going through return to work forms;

  • With the help of this form, you can discourage unauthorized and inappropriate absences.
  • The form makes sure the accuracy of an employee’s absence record.
  • It can be used to let the employees know regarding the important updates that have taken while they are on leave.
  • A return to work form can also use to determine any adjustments of workplace that might be required to assist the employee adjust while the reintegration.

It would be beneficial that employers make return to work forms and interviews as part of the employee return to work plan.

After maternity leave, how much notice do you have to provide to return to work?

After standard maternity leave, when you return to work, you should follow the same procedure and terms as you did before you left. The same procedure should be followed when you return after your additional maternity leave.

Employers generally suppose that women take 52 weeks of their statutory maternity leave. The women don’t have to provide notice of when they are returning to work if they plan to take the entire 52 weeks. But, you must have to let your employer know about your plan. In case, you have decide to come become earlier then give at least 8 weeks’ notice. You should state the following in your return to work letter template;

  • You have planned to return to work earlier than expected
  • You want to change your return date


In conclusion, when the employee returns to work after taking personal or medical leave, he has to submit a return to work form. Every company has a different policy regarding the submission of this document.

Faq (Frequently Asked Questions)

What to include in a return to work form?

1- The absence duration
2- A way used by employee to inform their absence
3- The reason for absence
4- Information regarding past absences over the previous calendar year
5- Return to work plan summary
6- Reasonable and necessary adjustments/accommodations that assist the employee to go back to work safely

Are return to work interviews required legally?

Return to work interviews aren’t required legally but they prove very beneficial for employers as part of an absence management program. These interviews is also the best practice to support employee welfare and wellbeing.

Can you refuse a return to work interview?

You can refuse a return to work interview but this may be considered in the violation of your employment contract. For this reason, your employer may take disciplinary action against you.

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