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Government Employer Guidance: Helping People Return to Work



Following on from the Chancellor’s Budget announced on 15 March 2023, the Government has published Employer Guidance: Helping People Return to Work (Returnships) for employers who are seeking to support people returning to work after a career break. The guidance focuses on supporting returners who have taken time out of work for childcare or other caring responsibilities and may also be useful for those who have taken time out for health, relocation or other reasons.

The Guidance is divided into 8 sections as follows:

1. Top tips for helping people return to work
2. About this guidance
3. Benefits of supporting returners
4. Things to consider before you start
5. Designing a return-to-work programme
6. Engaging and onboarding returners
7. Delivering the programme
8. Final reflections

The guidance was produced by the Equality Hub and acknowledges that it is an update of documents initially co-authored by Women Returners and Timewise, organisations which have considerable experience of working with people returning to work following a break to care for others.

The Guidance notes that making small changes to recruitment practices can have a positive impact on the number of returners applying for vacancies. Best practice includes the following:

– Research shows that many non-workers would prefer to work flexibly. Enhancing and promoting flexible working policies, including advertising jobs as flexible and offering flexible working, attracts more applicants than adverts where flexibility is not mentioned.

– Avoiding unnecessary requirements that might discourage returners, for example, asking for recent work experience or references, helps widen the pool;

– Advertising job vacancies as suitable for returners, and part-time if possible, has a positive effect on the number of women who apply.

On the flip side, for those seeking to return to the workplace following a career break, the Government has published guidance entitled Returner Toolkit: Helping you Back to Work.

Businesses may find these guides useful, particularly if having difficulties recruiting and considering ways to get the best candidate for the role.