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Could the government's new Fit for Work service help your business?

Luke Whitmore - Law on the Web

  1. 24 September 2015
  2. Business
  3. 0 comments
Working at work

If you run a small- to medium-sized business and have struggled to handle long-term employee sickness, the government has just introduced a new scheme which could be exactly what you need.

On the 8th of September, the government launched the Fit for Work service, an occupational health scheme aimed at people who have been, or are likely to be, on sick leave for four weeks or more, but are likely to return to work in some capacity eventually.

It can help you to get advice on reducing the impact of their absence on your business, and provide your employee with assistance in getting back to work as soon as possible.

Based on the idea that many smaller businesses are not able to provide sufficient occupational health cover themselves, it will hopefully mean that employer and employee alike can get the help they need.

How do I use it?

In some cases, employees may be referred to the Fit for Work service by their GP. This will happen in cases where they have been off work for four weeks or more, or the doctor is signing them off for that amount of time. GPs have this as an option in cases where they feel it will help, based on talking to the employee.

However, if they have not been referred to Fit for Work by a GP, you can do it yourself instead if your employee agrees to it.

In some cases, the Fit for Work service will need to discuss your employee’s situation further with you or another appropriate person in your company. You will also be able to access advice over the telephone or online once your employee is being dealt with by the scheme.

For advice on how to get in touch with the Fit for Work service, take a look at the contact details on the GOV.UK website.

How will it help?

The purpose of Fit for Work is to help employees to return to work after a lengthy illness as soon as possible, as well as giving advice to you, as their employer, on what you can do to facilitate them coming back to the workplace and minimise the harm that their illness could have on your business.

To this end, the service will produce a plan advising on all aspects of the employee’s return to work. This might include adjustments you could make to their workspace to help, and any other assistance you can provide to them.

One of the upsides of the Fit for Work service is that none of their advice is binding on you. While they advise that you follow the recommendations they set out, you are not under any obligation to do so, so you don’t need to worry about being told what to do by someone outside your organisation.

For more information on the scheme, take a look at the Fit for Work website.

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