If an employee has been unfit for work for four weeks or more, employers can refer them to the Fit for Work service. This is a free service introduced by the government to provide an occupational health assessment in addition to general health and work advice to employees and employers. This can assist in the return to work of an employee and/or to minimise the need for long term sickness absence.

Once the employee has consented to being referred to Fit for Work, employers in England and Wales can refer them for an assessment by visiting the Fit for Work website. Within 2 working days of the referral, the employee will be invited for a telephone assessment by a Fit for Work occupational health professional. The assessment usually takes up to 45 minutes and in the majority of cases is completed over the phone. However, a face to face meeting may be needed for more complex cases and usually takes place within 5 working days of the referral.

During the assessment, the occupational health professional will recognise the obstacles preventing the employee from returning to work including health, work and personal factors. A Return to Work Plan will be agreed between the employee and advisor, which provides recommendations tailored to the employee’s needs. The employee can then choose to share this plan with their GP and employer to enable the recommendations to be put into place where necessary, so they can return to work. This can replace the need for a fit note from the employees GP.

The main aim of the service is to fill the gap in occupational health advice available and support SME’s who have issues with long term sickness within their organisation. Though, Fit for Work can also work alongside existing occupational health provisions available to your organisation, as it focuses on a range of aspects stopping an employee from returning to work, not just health, such as financial and social problems.

If you would like any further information on the Fit for Work service, please contact the Amarisk team by emailing enquiries@amarisk.co.uk or phoning 01392 247436.

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