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The Essential Role of Pre-Return and Return-to-work Medical Visits

After a period of absence due to health reasons, when there is a change in one’s mental or physical health condition, it becomes necessary to implement gradual return conditions, adjustments, or even a change of job role: this is where the pre-return and return-to-work check-ups become invaluable.

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When an employee is absent due to health issues, their return to work is a delicate phase that requires special attention. The pre-return and return check-ups with the occupational physician are vital to ensure a successful and health-conscious reintegration.

The pre-return check-up: an asset for job retention

After being absent for more than 30 days, every employee can avail of a pre-return check-up. This proactive step, which the employer communicates to the employee during a liaison meeting, helps anticipate any necessary adjustments or support.

During this check-up, the occupational physician assesses the situation and may recommend:

  • Adjustments or modifications to the job role,
  • Potential job reclassification,
  • Or training to assist in professional redirection.

These recommendations, designed to promote the employee’s well-being and reintegration, are conveyed to the employer for swift and suitable action.

The return check-up: a crucial step

Several circumstances may trigger a return check-up: maternity leave, occupational disease, a work accident, or a prolonged absence. The purpose of this visit is manifold:

  • Ensure the job’s compatibility with the employee’s health condition,
  • Assess required adjustments,
  • Suggest modifications or job reclassification,
  • And ultimately, issue an incompatibility notice if the situation demands.

It’s worth noting that any work absence less than 30 days due to a work-related accident must be reported to the occupational physician. Also, if an employee is categorized under the second category of disability, the informed employer must schedule a return check-up unless the employee expresses a desire not to return to work.

Consequences linked to these check-ups

Coordinating the pre-return and return check-ups is crucial for optimizing the employee’s return conditions. It’s essential to understand that only the return check-up can lead to an incompatibility decision.

Failing to attend a return check-up is a valid reason for dismissal. Indeed, while a health-related absence pauses the employment contract, it’s the return check-up that officially ends this hiatus.

On their part, employers must fulfill their duty of scheduling these medical visits. Any oversight can harm the employee, who may then rightfully seek compensation for damages.

In conclusion:

The pre-return and return check-ups are critical steps in ensuring the health and well-being of employees at work. Both employers and employees have a role in managing these stages with respect and care, ensuring a calm and suitable resumption.

Philippe Casanova

Specialist in occupational medicine and forensic medicine.