How to engage with the Fit for Work service about an employee on sickness absence
NOTE: A government announcement on 30 November 2017 stated that the Fit for Work assessment services will come to an end in England and Wales on 31 March 2018 and 31 May 2018 in Scotland. 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.
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- Be aware that the Fit for Work service provides free assessments for employees on sickness absence and advice on work-related health matters.
- Understand how Fit for Work operates and the potential limitations of the assessment process.
- Be aware that an employee may be referred to Fit for Work by his or her GP without the employer's knowledge and that the involvement of the employer in the process will vary.
- Consider having a single point of contact for dealings with Fit for Work.
- Be aware that employers can refer employees to Fit for Work if they have been on sickness absence for at least four weeks and meet the other eligibility requirements.
- Decide whether or not to involve in-house occupational health advisers, if available, as well as or instead of Fit for Work.
- Obtain the employee's consent before making a referral to Fit for Work.
- Be aware that Fit for Work will issue a return-to-work plan with recommended steps for the employee, employer or GP to take.
- Discuss the return-to-work plan with the employee and consider implementing any recommendations.
- Ensure that line managers are aware that a return-to-work plan can be used in place of a fit note.