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Are you ready for ‘Fit for work’?

The new initiative is a free service and provides GPs, employers and employees with access to work -related health advice.

The new initiative is a free service and provides GPs, employers and employees with access to work -related health advice.

Under the scheme, employers can obtain telephone, on-line and web advice about work-related health matters affecting their employees in the workplace. For employees who have reached, or whose GP expects them to reach, four weeks of sickness absence, there is a free referral for an occupational health assessment. It is envisaged that the benefit of early intervention will reduce sick pay costs by enabling employees to return to work earlier. Employees will ordinarily be referred by their GP, but employers can also seek a referral after four weeks of absence.

The purpose of the occupational health assessment will be to seek to identify all potential obstacles preventing the employee from returning to work. This in turn can be developed into an agreed action plan to overcome such obstacles and to hopefully enable the employee a safe and sustained return.

Employers interested in learning more about the scheme should visit fitforwork.org or telephone 0800 032 6235.

It would also be sensible for employers to update their sickness and absence policies and procedures and to communicate with their employees over the introduction of the scheme.

It is the Government’s hope that this initiative will significantly reduce long term sickness absence and save employers from the associated costs.

The scheme is likely to be of major benefit to small and medium sized enterprises which may have only limited access to occupational health services and, it is intended that Fit for Work will complement and not replace any existing occupational health services provided by employers.

For details on when referrals to the Fit for Work assessment can be made in your area, visit https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/fit-for-work-guidance.