The Legal Team

DWP Roll out Free 'Fit for Work' Service


Doncaster, England -- (SBWIRE) -- 12/23/2015 -- The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) has issued additional guidance to manage sickness in the workplace. The Fit for Work service is being rolled out through 2015 to accompany existing occupational health support for employers and employees throughout the UK. For periods of extended sickness, employers or GPs can now refer employees for a Fit for Work assessment if they have been absent for four weeks or longer.

The key aim of the service is to provide qualified advice and recommendations to employers, employees and GPs. Barriers to an employee's return to work would be assessed and a Return to Work Plan tailored specifically for the employee by an occupational health professional. This must be accepted by employers in the same way as a fit note, removing the need for repeat GP visits. The service is free and composed of a health and work advice service, accessible online and via telephone. Also there is an occupational health assessment service which includes the Return to Work Plan for employees who are likely to be off work sick for four weeks or more.

SMEs may have limited in-house occupational health expertise and should find the service particularly beneficial. In addition, larger business may use the service to complement existing provision to minimise the impact of long-term sickness absence in the workplace.

The need for the service was identified when David Frost CBE and Dame Carol Black carried out a review and published their findings in 'Health at Work – an independent review of sickness absence'. It was highlighted that lack of access to occupational health services was one of the largest barriers for employees to return to work.

A spokesperson for the Legal Team said "Sickness in employment is a big issue. According to the Analysis of Labour Survey 2010, there are around 865,000 employee absences which continue for four weeks or more in England and Wales. Employers now have high hopes that the service will bridge the gap and reduce those numbers dramatically."

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