Introduction to this document

Letter confirming temporary work alterations

Our letter confirming temporary work alterations assists you where, as a result of the GP’s recommendations in the statement of fitness for work, you’ve agreed a return-to-work plan with your absent employee. Don’t forget to set a date for review of the temporary arrangements.

Agreed return

When agreeing a return-to-work plan with your employee following the GP’s advice in the statement of fitness for work, it’s important to reach agreement on the following matters:

         the date on which the employee will return to work

         on what basis they are returning, i.e. what temporary work alterations are being made to accommodate their return, for example, a phased return to work, amended duties, altered working hours or workplace adaptations, and how exactly those alterations will operate

         that these alterations are only being made on a temporary basis and do not constitute a permanent change to the employee’s contract of employment

         what temporary effect these alterations will have on the employee’s other terms and conditions of employment - for example, if the employee will be paid a reduced salary because they will be working fewer hours or carrying out lesser duties

         arrangements for monitoring the employee’s progress and dealing with any difficulties

         when the temporary alterations will be reviewed - it’s important to set a date for review so as to ensure progress is being made towards a full return to work.

Normally, it’s legally acceptable to say to the employee that if they are only going to be working on a part-time basis or performing lesser duties, until they’re fully fit to return to normal full-time duties, they will only be paid either for the hours they work or the salary that relates to the lesser job role. However, if the employee is disabled within the meaning of the Equality Act 2010, pay protection might be a reasonable adjustment, in conjunction with other measures, to get the employee back to work. The question is always whether it’s reasonable for the employer to take that step, which needs to be determined in the particular circumstances of the case. It’s more likely to be a reasonable adjustment in relation to larger employers with significant resources.

Costs and expenses

You must not require the employee to pay for the costs of any workplace adaptations needed to accommodate their return. Indeed, the Equality Act 2010 specifically provides that where the duty to make reasonable adjustments arises in respect of disabled employees, the employer can’t require the disabled employee to pay for the costs of any such adjustments. You’re going to have to bear the costs, provided of course that they’re reasonable.

Written confirmation

Once you’ve held the meeting and discussed and agreed a return to work with your employee, then you should write to confirm what exactly you’ve agreed with them - remember that you can’t force them into coming back to work so you do need their express consent to your proposals for their return. Likewise, you need them to consent to what associated temporary changes it means for their contract of employment, in particular where pay is concerned. Our Letter Confirming Temporary Work Alterations sets out all the matters discussed above that you should have already agreed with your employee.