Return to work form (templates included)

In this blog post, we explain what a return to work form is and how to fill it in. We also discuss the main reason for absenteeism at work – occupational stress. 

What is a return to work form?

A return to work form is a document that the employee must fill in when he/she returns to work after a period of absence.

The employee must complete the form with all the necessary information, such as the period of absence and the reason for it.

In some cases, along with the return to work form, the employer can arrange a return to work interview.

Its purpose is to inform the employee what happened in his absence, but also to check if the employee is really well and ready to return to work.

Why should you use a return to work form?

There are several benefits to completing a return to work form. 

First of all, a manager/supervisor should always know when (and why) their employees are absent, and also when they will be able to return.

This allows the manager to efficiently organize the workload in the meantime.

Furthermore, this form allows the employer to understand the reasons why an employee was absent.

Whether or not they are missing because of their personal problems, or is something related to their job. 

Also, by completing the return to work form, the employee will feel a greater responsibility and the chances are lower that he will lie about the reason for his absence.

However, the employer does not have to make the employee feel like he is being questioned and blamed for needing a break.

On the contrary, he should feel that he is being helped and that the main goal of the employer is to prevent absenteeism at work.

Filling out a fit to return to work form

In the return to work form, employees must answer a few simple questions about their absence:

– What was the period of absence (first day and last day);

– Who was notified that the employee will be absent?

– What is the reason why the employee was absent?

– If the employee went to a doctor, what are his recommendations?

– If the employee has certain requirements to make the transition to work easier for him, what are they?

The form is then dated and signed by the employee.

If a return to work interview follows, he will also be able to discuss in more detail with the employer what he needs to be more productive, to get back in rhythm more easily, etc.

Both the return to work form and the return to work interview are confidential.

Benefits of a return to work form

Below we will list the benefits of a return to work form (which may or may not be followed by a return to work interview).

– If each employee will have to fill in such a form, there will be a reduction of unjustified absences.

– It is a great way to provide support to employees and reasonable adjustments so that they are more efficient and productive.

– The face-to-face interview is more likely to prevent dishonesty, but it is also a good opportunity for the manager to create a connection with the employee.

– The transition to work is much simpler this way, especially if the employee has been absent for a long time.

– Both the interview and the form provide the manager with valuable information about the work environment.

Return to work form template

Below you will see a version of a return to work form. I have already explained above how to fill it.

Stress at work

Although there are countless reasons why an employee may be absent from work, most of the time these reasons are caused by stress at work.

It often happens that employees burn out, and this is both to their detriment and that of the company.

The first signs that are associated with occupational stress and that must be considered as an alarm signal given by the body are:

• feeling tired

• sleeping disorders

• headache and stomach pain

• poor digestion

• low concentration

• irritability

• emotional lability.

In chronic diseases, it is more difficult to assess whether they are caused by occupational stress or if it is only a favourable factor for these diseases, but still in various studies has associated chronic stress at work with an increased risk of coronary heart disease.

To these you can add:

• professional dissatisfaction

• bad mood

• decreased productivity at work

• absenteeism

• work accidents.

Occupational stress is an aspect that the employer must give more importance to because some of the causes of occupational stress are found in the working conditions.

Of course, the factors related to the individual are just as important, but they have the role of factors that predispose or favour the appearance of stress symptoms.

The causes of occupational stress

Among the causes that are found in working conditions can be mentioned:

Microclimate: a microclimate with too much humidity, too hot or too cool, represents an increased degree of risk for stress

Air pollution: inhalation of toxins influences the physical and mental health of the body

Excessive noise in the work environment decreases concentration and hearing

Factors related to the equipment used and the technological flow: equipment not adapted from an ergonomic point of view, congestion of spaces, oversized tasks in relation to the time worked or too monotonous that induce fatigue, reduced time to restore physical and mental capacity, absence rooms intended for rest and rest, lack of lunch break, inefficient use of working time, etc.

Poor communication between superiors and employees, difficult communication between employees, ignorance of the exact requirements of the job, lack of opportunities for growth and promotion in the professional career, lack of motivation of employees.

Failure to perform regular medical check-ups, which would help to detect early symptoms of stress, poor personal hygiene, which leads to decreased immunity of the body and increased risk of disease.

How to prevent work stress

In order to prevent stress at work, certain measures can be taken at an individual and organizational level through stress prevention and management programs.

These could be:

  • First of all, one should be made aware that work stress it’s possible.

The employer can provide information about occupational stress, what it is and what are its negative consequences on our health and on work efficiency.

Informative materials can be distributed as well as links to certain websites, magazines about healthy lifestyle can be recommended that cover subjects such as healthy eating, personal hygiene, regular exercise, regular medical evaluation of one’s mental and physical health.

  • Secondly, the development of emotional regulation and control skills. 

This can be achieved by finding effective common solutions so that the employees can cope with the stressful situation, whether it manifests itself at work or at home.

Emotional regulation can be achieved by controlling our thoughts: a wrong opinion or a negative attitude towards certain people can influence the course of a relationship.

When communicating to others around us the things that bother us, it is essential not to offend the person we are talking to and not to focus our discussion on the person, but on their behaviour. 

  • Thirdly, the optimization of the work environment must be achieved.
  • Better time management. 
  • The existing nuisances at the workplace must be reduced to the allowed limits, so as not to influence the well-being and health of the employees.
  • Awareness by the employer of the importance for the employee to know in advance the requirements of the position held and inform employees in advance about organizational changes to take place (job reductions, job transformation, extended program) will reduce the level of uncertainty and will help build realistic employee expectations.
  • Facilitating the communication process in an organization brings benefits both professionally and personally. Discovering the mismatches within a group, but also facilitating communication with the organization’s management to solve the various problems that arise would actually mean removing possible sources of stress.
  •  Individual appreciation of each employee, material stimulation and providing opportunities for career development would be some of the other solutions that could create a state of comfort at work and good mood.

We spend a lot of our time working, so it is essential to go to work with pleasure.

Absolutely any work done with joy becomes less strenuous even when it is hard, so if it is in our power to make our lives more enjoyable it is worth doing because so we can avoid many other problems in the future.


In this blog post, we explained what a return to work form is and how to fill it in.

We also discussed the main reason for absenteeism at work – occupational stress. 

Now you know the benefits of a return to work form and interview, and why it would be a good idea to implement it in your company.

If you are employed and worried about this form and interview, you should know that its purpose is to help you make a smoother transition to work after a period of absence, not to condemn you for the fact that you needed a break.

Please feel free to ask any questions or to leave a comment on the content!

FAQ about the return to work form

What is a return to work form?

A return to work form is a document that the employee must fill in when he/she returns to work after a period of absence.

The employee must complete the form with all the necessary information, such as the period of absence and the reason for it.

When should a return to work form be done?

A return to work form should be done immediately after the employer returns to work after a period of absence.

The manager can also choose whether a return to work interview should be carried out.

The form must be returned the first day back to work, while the interview can be carried a few days later. 

Can I refuse a back to work interview?

You can refuse a back to work interview, but it will do you no good.

You should not be nervous about the interview, as your manager’s purpose is to understand the reasons behind your absence and how he/she can help you transition better and faster. 

Do you need a fit note to return to work?

You do not need a fit note to return to work, but it highly depends on the situation.

If your absence is due to a medical condition, a fit note may be required before your return to full-time work. 

What happens at a return to work meeting?

At a return to work meeting, you are going to discuss with your supervisor/manager the reasons of your absence and what adjustments you need to be made in order to be more productive, to reduce work stress, etc.


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