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Fit For Work Service

Posted on 25th March 2015
New legislation

The ‘Fit For Work Service’ has been rolled out in Sheffield and North Wales areas and will be available throughout England and Wales by autumn 2015.

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Julie Temple Julie
Temple
Partner Telephone: 01473 694407

Fit For Work Service provides free occupational health assessments for employees off sick (or likely to be off sick) for four weeks or more

The ‘Fit For Work Service’ has been rolled out in Sheffield and North Wales areas and will be available throughout England and Wales by autumn 2015.

The Fit For Work Service (previously called Health and Work Service) provides:

  • free health and work advice through its website (see below) and telephone advice line. The service can be accessed by employers, employees and GPs.
  • free occupational health assessments for employees off sick (or likely to be off sick) for four weeks or more. 
Referral is the default position but there is discretion to delay or bring forward a referral in appropriate circumstances.

The assessment will usually take place by telephone and result in a Return to Work Plan.

The employer can be involved in drawing up the Plan with the consent of the employee.

The Plan, with the employee’s consent, will be shared with the GP and employer.

The Plan’s progress will be monitored by the Service.
 
The Plan can be accepted as evidence for the purposes of SSP in place of ‘fit notes’.

One employee can only be referred once in any 12 month period.

Employees are automatically discharged from the Service two weeks after a return to work or when the Service decides it can be of no further assistance.

Combined with the introduction of the service, the Government has introduced a £500 tax exemption (per tax year and employee) for medical treatments recommended to assist an employee’s return to work.

The service is intended to complement (not replace) existing occupational health services and referrals are generally made by the employees GP. Use of the Service is not, therefore, mandatory.

The Department for Work and Pensions has published three new guidance notes for GPs, employers and employees.

There is also a website with useful resources and information.

In Practice

Employers should consider the introduction of the Service in light of current provisions and arrangements for OH. How will the two interact? How will you deal with recommendations if there is a conflict? Should any enhanced sick pay be conditional on an employee co-operating and giving consent to you accessing the Plan?

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