From today employers in England & Wales can access the Government service to help get employees on long term sickness absence back into the workplace.

The Fit For Work Service is aimed at SMEs and for employees who have been absent due to sickness for four weeks or more.

It provides a free occupational health advice and support service. Employees will be referred to the service by their GP or their employer and will then receive an in depth consultation with a qualified occupational heath advisor who can help support a return to work by creating a personalised Return to Work Plan .

The scheme is not mandatory so employees will have to agree to a referral to the Fit For Work Service being made – employers will need to obtain written consent from the employee before proceeding.

Employees must also give their consent at other stages throughout the process so they remain in control of what information is collected and shared about their health.

Once a Return to Work Plan has been created it is then up to the employer to decide if they can agree to and accommodate the steps within that plan. This still enables an employer to retain control over how they run the business and manage their employees, but will give qualified advice to make informed decisions about how best to do so in the case of long term sickness.


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