From this Autumn, employers in England and Wales will be able to refer certain employees who are off work through illness or injury to a new Fit for Work occupational health assessment service for a free voluntary occupational health assessment. This new Government service also provides advice on work-related health matters for employers, employees and GPs through both a website and a telephone helpline.
How does it work?
Once an employee has reached, or is expected to reach, four weeks’ sickness absence, he or she can be referred by his or her GP or the employer for a free Fit for Work assessment by an occupational health professional who, if the worker agrees, will look at the issues preventing a return to work. The service is not intended to replace any existing Company Occupational Health provision but to be an additional, and complementary, resource.The individual employee will be assessed and the referral will usually lead to a Return to Work Plan that will provide advice and recommendations to get the employee back into work. This Return to Work Plan can be accepted as evidence of sickness absence in the same way as a GP-issued fit note.
What do employers need to do?
Employers need to ensure that they and their managers understand what the Fit for Work Assessment Service is and how it works. Simply-Docs has updated its Guidance Notes For Return To Work Interviews And Risk Assessments accordingly. Employers also need to build in an alert system so that they are reminded to consider a referral to the Fit for Work service after four weeks’ sickness absence. Finally, Company sickness policies should be re-worked to take account of the new service. Documents in the Simply-Docs ‘Sickness and Absence’ folder have been updated accordingly, including the Sickness and Absence Policy. A new Invitation To Return To Work Interview Letter has also been created.
The contents of this News article are for reference purposes only and do not constitute legal advice. Independent legal advice should be sought in relation to any specific legal matter.