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5 Reasons You Need to Stop Using Paper Return to Work Forms

4 March 2020 4 min read

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Employees calling off sick is not something new and is an issue that employers have had to deal with for years. Employee calls up, tells their manager they aren’t well, and takes a day or two off to recover. Managing unplanned absences is easy, well it is if you are using our sickness tracking software.

But what happens once the employee has recovered, and it is time for them to go back to work? Well for most businesses, require employees to complete return to work forms. Which again, if you are using our return to work module is a seamless and quick task.

But what about those businesses that are still using paper return to work forms, is that a seamless and quick task? Well, the answer is no. Not only is it time-consuming, why would an employee want to come back to work to find a pile of paper on their desk with the words; RETURN TO WORK FORM.

Paper return to work form


They have already missed days of work, therefore they are will probably have hundreds of emails to go through and work to catch up on. All whilst probably still feeling a bit under the weather and only working at about 80%.

We hate manual processes and paper forms. We hate them so much, we wrote this article. So, if you are using paper return to work forms, please read our top 5 reasons why you need to stop below.

1. Employees hate it

Like we said above. When employees return after an unplanned absence, they don’t want the hassle of filling in pages of paper forms. What’s worse, is that all these paper forms are blank, meaning not only does the employee have to fill in details of when they were off and what they were off for, they must fill in their own name. These forms should already have that information.

2. Time-consuming for HR

Keeping track of all completed and incomplete forms is a full-time job on its own. Well, OK, it might not be, but it can be extremely time-consuming and a real hassle. How do you know if an employee hasn’t completed a return to work form? Well, unless you know that the employee was off sick and when they returned, it can be very hard.

Managers may forget to ask the employee to complete the form or the employee could forget to complete it. Both of which, unless you are on top of it, can go under the radar. Meaning no record of a return to work form at all.

3. Hard to manage and store

With potentially thousands of return to work forms being filled out every year, it can be extremely hard to manage. Paper forms must be collected and filed away, meaning large filing cabinets filled with unorganised paperwork. And what happens when someone asks to see a return to work form from a few months ago? Another nightmare.

You spend hours, looking through thousands of folders, trying to find that one form, then it dawns on you, it was never completed in the first place.

4. Prone to human error

With any manual process, there are often mistakes. Now thankfully filling out a return to work form incorrectly isn’t the end of the world. However, it may mean employees filling out multiple forms to get it correct. Which is time-consuming and frustrating for the employee.

5. Costly and bad for the environment

Now, this point may either be a huge selling point or one that you ignore. It depends if you want to remove all paper from your business and help the environment. If so, then eliminating paper return to work forms will help. With fewer pieces of paper being printed out and filled in, fewer trees are required to be cut down. Yes, you may only be making a small dent, but every little will help.

As well as helping the planet, you will save money by not buying paper, printer ink, and pens. Not a lot, but every penny counts.

If you are tired of filling out a paper return to work form and want to make it easier for employees, HR, and the business, then you need to use our online return to work form module. Custom-built return to work forms that are prefilled with employee’s information and illness. We make returning to work easy

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Katrina Bennett People Director at edays
March 4, 2020

Katrina is edays' own People Director with significant UK and international experience in delivering people strategy and value-adding HR solutions across a range of organisations and sectors (including Arriva, Boots, Rolls Royce, the utility and charity sectors). Katrina has over 20 years of experience in Human Resources and is CIPD qualified.