The Department for Work & Pensions has finally launched its service for employers, employees and GPs, to help employees who have been sick for four weeks or more to return to work.
It has been designed to reduce sick pay costs for employers by facilitating a quicker return to work and by providing an occupational health service to small businesses with limited access to this type of resource.
As an employer you can access web and telephone advice about any work related health matters affecting you and your employees by visiting www.FitForWork.org or by calling 0800 032 6235.
It is not mandatory to use the service but you should now consider updating your sickness absence policies to reflect the availability of Fit for Work. You should make sure your managers know about the resources offered and that they may be contacted by the service concerning an employee referred to them. They also need to understand how to deal with a Return to Work Plan from Fit for Work and the fact that this plan removes the need for a fit note while it remains current.
You can refer an employee to Fit for Work if:
- They are still employed by you
- They have been absent for four weeks or more
- They have not been referred for an assessment within the last 12 months
- They have provided consent to be referred and
- They have not already been referred to the service by their GP.
Fit for Work offers:
- Advice by telephone and online, including information on adjustments at work or general work related health advice
- Referral for an occupational health assessment. Employees referred will be contacted within two days of the referral and a telephone assessment completed. In some cases a face to face assessment may be deemed necessary
- A Return to Work Plan. This will be provided to the employer by email and the employer should then consider whether it can act on the recommendations.
Fit for Work may contact you to gain an understanding of your specific workplace, when recommendations in the Return to Work Plan have not been actioned, or in cases where the relationship between you and your employee are identified as one of the obstacles to a return to work.
Employees will be discharged from Fit for Work when they have returned to work (including on a phased return basis) or when the Fit for Work service can no longer provide assistance or if a return to work has not been possible after three months.
Find out more at www.FitForWork.org or call 0800 032 6235.