The government’s equality body has issued guidance for people looking to return to work, focusing on those who have taken a break of over a year for caring reasons.

The guidance entitled “Toolkit for returners: helping you back to work” has been designed as a roadmap that takes the individual through every stage of the return-to-work process, offering a wide range of information. The toolkit applies whether the person is male or female, young or old and regardless of what industry or occupation they worked in previously.

In effect, the advice suggests a number of steps to follow, which includes:


  1. Making time to sort out the return to work, for example by identifying activities that can be delegated to others.
  2. Making a return-to-work plan which sets out a series of steps to follow and the actions necessary to make them happen.
  3. Exploring childcare and eldercare options as well as support for the return to work in general.
  4. Looking at what opportunities exist in the current market.
  5. Identifying all relevant skills and strengths, experiences and achievements.
  6. Addressing self-doubts.
  7. Updating skills and knowledge such as IT skills.
  8. Using and developing networks of people who may be able to help facilitate the return to work.
  9. Starting to look for jobs, including voluntary options.
  10. Writing the CV and cover letter.


Additional guidance in the form of a toolkit for employers provides information on how to implement a returners’ programme. In particular, it emphasises the need to ensure buy-in from senior management, which is then cascaded through the organisation so that line managers also understand the rationale for the programme, enabling them to provide structure and feedback.


Although the employers’ toolkit emphasises the importance of building in flexibility for candidates wanting to return to work, it also flags up the need to identify their limits in terms of what will, and will not, work. Finally, the guidance provides practical advice on how to attract and recruit candidates and how to support them once they have been hired.


Matthew Pull, of Thompsons Solicitors, commented: “Any assistance which is provided to individuals looking to return to the workplace can only be of benefit. However, ultimately the effectiveness of these documents will largely be dependent on the willingness of employers to embrace flexible working and other family-friendly practices.”


To read the toolkit for returners, go to:


To read the toolkit for employers, go to: