What is the Fit for Work service?
Fit for Work is a Government-funded service providing occupational health assessments on referral from the employee's GP or employer, where an employee is absent from work for at least four weeks. It also provides an advice service for employers, employees and GPs on matters relating to health and work, which is delivered through a website and telephone helpline.
Where an employee is referred to the service, an adviser from the Fit for Work service will carry out an occupational health assessment, usually over the phone. The employee will be provided with a return-to-work plan, with recommendations for steps that could help him or her to return to work. The return-to-work plan will be shared with the employer, unless the employee does not consent to this.
The employee will have a case manager at the Fit for Work service, who can arrange a further assessment if necessary. The employee will be discharged from the service:
- on returning to work;
- at the point when the service can no longer provide assistance (if this occurs within the first three months of absence); or
- if he or she has not returned to work after three months.
The Government has announced that the Fit for Work assessment service is to close, following low referral rates. A government announcement on 30 November 2017 stated that the assessment services will come to an end in England and Wales on 31 March 2018 and 31 May 2018 in Scotland. The website and telephone advice service will continue to operate. The Fit for Work service in England and Wales has confirmed that its referral service will close on 15 December 2017 and that any employees already referred to it by that date will continue to receive a service for up to 90 days.