- Fit for Work (FFW) is a government-established referral network of Occupational Health specialists aimed at helping employees manage their health conditions and/or absence through an advice service and a referral to an assessment service for work related health advice.
- It can give employees, employers and GPs advice about work-related health matters or when an employee is off sick from work. The advice can help identify adjustments that could help an employee remain in, or return to, work.
- The advice is offered via a website or by telephone only.
- FFW will not replace existing occupational health services provided by employers. It will fill the gap in support that currently exists and is intended especially to benefit those employers who currently have limited in-house occupational health services.
What are the Government’s aims with FFW?
- Reduce sickness absence by 20-40% across England and Wales.
- Save employers £65m-£80m per year.
- Cut SSP by £30m-£60m per year.
- Increase UK economic output by £900m per year.
Benefits of FFW
- It is free for employees, employers and GPs who are accessing advice and assessments.
- It is intended to be quick, giving access to advice from Monday to Friday 8.30am to 6.00pm in England and Wales. Once a referral has been made, the employee will be contacted by a ‘health professional’ within 2 working days.
- An employee can also choose to be referred for a FFW assessment through their GP.
Who provides it, where?
- In England and Wales it is provided by Health Management Limited, an American-owned private occupational health provider.
- In Scotland it is provided by the Scottish Government on behalf of DWP.
- See http://fitforwork.org for more information.
When does it start?
- It has now started.
Who is eligible for a Fit For Work assessment?
A person will be eligible if he or she is:
- in paid employment;
- referred by their GP or employer;
- likely to be able to return to work;
- has been off sick for 4 weeks or more, or his or her GP thinks he or she could be off sick for that long;
- has not been previously referred to the service within the last 12 months and has not had a Return to Work Plan; and
- has consented to a referral.
Referral for an Occupational Health Assessment
- Employees will normally be referred by their GP but they can also be referred by their employer. An employee can only be referred for one assessment in any 12 month period.
- It is not mandatory, since it is dependent both on the employee’s consent and on the referring GP or employer considering that there may be a likelihood of the employee making at least a phased return to work. However, employees may feel pressured by their employer into being referred.
- Once the employee has reached 4 weeks of sickness absence or if their GP expects the employee to be absent for 4 weeks then the employee can be referred.
- The trigger point for referral is 4 weeks’ absence. This includes absence self-certification by the employee.
Read the full bulletin by visiting this link.