Do employees have to give their consent for a referral to the Fit for Work service to be made?
Yes, employees have to give their consent before a referral to the Fit for Work service can be made about them, whether the referral is made by their GP or employer.
If an employer intends to refer an employee to Fit for Work for an occupational health assessment, it should discuss this with the employee, fully explaining the purpose of the referral, and ask the employee for his or her written consent.
In addition to the GP or employer obtaining the employee's consent before making the initial referral to the service, Fit for Work must obtain the employee's consent:
- before the initial assessment takes place;
- before it shares each version of a return-to-work-plan with the GP or employer; and
- before it contacts the GP or employer or any third party, where this is necessary as part of the assessment.
The Government has announced the closure of the Fit for Work occupational health assessment service, following low referral rates. The Fit for Work service in England and Wales no longer accepts referrals. Any employees already referred to the service before 15 December 2017 will continue to receive a service for up to 90 days. Fit for Work Scotland is still accepting referrals (for employees who live in Scotland). However, a government announcement on 30 November 2017 stated that the Fit for Work assessment service in Scotland will come to an end on 31 May 2018.