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Q: What are return to work interviews? A: Such interviews are a very effective method of dealing with suspect sickness absence claims. They are held when the employee returns to work, but should be carried out for everyone returning to work after an absence that was not pre-arranged. The interview is only an investigatory meeting and not disciplinary, so the employee is not entitled to bring a companion along. However, you are entitled to allow them to do is if you so wish. Do think carefully about who is permitted to hold the interview as you may be discussing intimate medical matters. It is wise to chose someone of an appropriate gender or ethnic group, and to ensure that they are fully trained. If you are satisfied that the absence was genuine, then do offer sympathy and be understanding. Offering help in settling back in, perhaps with a lighter workload, or fewer hours, would certainly give out the message to other employees. that those with genuine absences will be well treated if they try to keep their absences to a minimum. If you are satisfied that the claim is indeed false, then inform the employee that you will be taking the appropriate disciplinary action. As this is still an investigation at this point, do not give a warning there and then. Our Sales Engineer has been living with his partner and her children from a previous relationship for over five years. He is now going to adopt her children and has requested adoption leave.

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