Hannah Morgan

Written by Hannah Morgan
22nd December 2014

FREE service for Employers & Employees

On the 15 December 2014, the government launched its new ‘Fit for Work’ scheme. The scheme is designed to provide free, expert and impartial work-related health advice to all.

Is your business ready?

In 2013, 131 million working days in the UK were lost due to sickness absence. A national review of Sickness Absence called for a number of improvements, some of which included a state-funded health and work assessment and advisory service and the publication of revised fit note guidance.

The outcome of the review will see two major changes in how long-term sickness absence is dealt with:

  1. A designated user-friendly website providing support and guidance for both employees and employers in dealing with health conditions which can result in long-term sickness absence (http://fitforwork.org).
  1. A free telephone advice service/help-line to employers, GP’s and employees and individual employee assessment service.

The first change is live now and this will pave-the-way for the second change which is expected to be launched in May 2015.

The help-line will provide work-related health advice to enable a timely return to work and advice will be professionally provided by qualified occupational health advisors.

An individual health assessment service, made primarily via the telephone, will be available to employers and employees on, or expected to reach, 4 weeks of sickness absence. Referrals can be made via the employees GP or through the employer and the health assessment will identify all obstacles preventing a return to work, culminating in a Return-to-Work plan. The Return-to-Work plan will recommend measures, steps and/or interventions that would facilitate a return to work and this will be shared with the employees GP and employer, should the employee provide consent.

The scheme will NOT replace private occupational health advisory services that currently exist in organisations. This is mainly due to the fact that private occupational health services will still have a clearer understanding of the internal business of organisations. However, the new scheme is designed to supplement existing schemes and provide a holistic approach in which all parties involved are working together to ensure a smooth transition back into the workplace.

Action points for the Employer

  • Revise your current Sickness Absence policy to fit in with the new scheme.
  • Train your line managers to ensure they ‘know what to say’ should this situation arise.
  • Inform your employees of the Occupational Health provision available to them.

Should you wish to discuss further or you require our professional HR team to assist you with these changes, please contact Hannah Morgan, OneSG’s HR Manager, on 01633 415436.

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