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Manage a staffer’s leave of absence

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in Leaders & Managers,People Management

When employees take a leave of absence, it’s difficult. While you want employees to take the time needed to heal either physically or mentally, their absence has left a void on your team. Follow this advice to handle this sensitive situation:

  • Respect the process. Your em­­ployees need to recover before going back to work, and with short-term disability, it is their legal right. Don’t force employees to come back before they’re ready.
  • Reach out to them. While you don’t want to pester employees with daily check-ins, do reach out weekly so that they don’t begin to feel isolated. A quick call or email to ask how they’re feeling and to let them know you’re thinking of them will suffice. Refrain from asking, “So when do you think you will get back to work?” Let your HR department handle that.
  • Bring them back slowly. Em­­ploy­­ees may not be ready to tackle a full day of work, but they may be able—and even eager—to do some work. Consider phasing them back in, for example, starting at 10 hours a week and then gravitating toward full time. Be sure to discuss the idea with your HR department to ensure that you are compliant with all laws and guidelines.

— Adapted “Q&A: How to Get an Employee Back in the Saddle,” David Price,

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