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Website URL : http://www.acas.org.uk/index.aspx?1=1;/fitforwork

Fit for Work

Fit for Work helps employers manage the impact sickness absence has on their business, and helps employees get the support they need to get back to work quickly and safely.

There are two elements to Fit for Work:

  • Free, expert and impartial work-related health advice for employers, employees and GPs via a website and telephone line.
  • Referral to a voluntary occupational health assessment for employees who have been off sick, or who are likely to be off sick, for four weeks or more.

Key points

  • Fit for Work provides free, expert and impartial work-related health advice for employers, employees and GPs via a website and telephone line.
  • Free referral for an occupational health assessment for employees who have been off sick, or are likely to be off sick, for four weeks or more.
  • Fit for Work does not replace any existing occupational health service provided by employers but rather complements it.
  • The Fit for Work referral service has now rolled out nationwide to GPs, so they are able to refer patients to the service directly.
  • Employers will be able to refer patients to the service from Autumn 2015.
  • Fit for Work and Return to Work Plans do not replace Fit Notes but offer an alternative way to get back into work.

Guidance for employers

Fit for Work provides employers with access to work-related health advice (www.fitforwork.org). From Autumn 2015, employers will be able to refer their employees to the Fit For Work service.

At the moment, only GPs can refer employees who have been, or are likely to be, off work for more than four weeks for a free voluntary occupational health assessment. The assessment will look at the health, work and personal factors preventing an employee from returning to work, and recommendations which will assist them to return to work. If you have employees who are, or are likely to be, off work for four weeks or more, you may start to receive step-by-step Return to Work Plans tailored to your employees' needs. Recommendations may include actions for you, but whether you implement these recommendations is a matter for you.

You can use the Return to Work plan to determine entitlement to Statutory Sick Pay. If your employee decides not to share their Return to Work Plan with you, or you choose not to accept it, your employee's GP can consider if a Fit Note is required (see below).

Guidance for employees

Employees can access advice regarding work-related health issues via the website (www.fitforwork.org) or telephone helpline.

Your GP can refer you to a free occupational health assessment if you have been or are likely to be absent for four weeks. You will receive tailored advice from an occupational health professional, who will talk about any health issues and your circumstances and then create a return to work plan with recommendations to help get you back to work safely. You can decide whether your return to work plan can be shared with your employer or not.

Training from Acas on Fit for Work and absence management

Acas are offering a number of training courses on the new Fit for Work service and on Managing Long Term Absences. View and book training courses.

How to contact Fit for Work

England and Wales:

Welsh Language Line:

Scotland:

Fit notes

If employees enter into the Fit for Work scheme they will receive a return to work plan and will not be required to have a fit note too. However, if they do not choose to use the Fit for Work Scheme, share their Return to Work plan with their employer, or their employer does not accept the Return to Work plan, a Fit Note will still be required.

A Fit Note (or The Statement for Fitness for Work), is a Medical Statement that GPs issue and replaced the sick note several years ago. It aims to focus on what an employee may be able do at work rather than what they cannot do. The fit note offers an option - 'may be fit for work taking account of the following advice'. When ticking this option the GP should consider fitness for work in general, not fitness for a specific job that the employee is doing.

A GP can suggest ways of helping an employee get back to work. This might mean discussing:

  • a phased return to work
  • flexible working
  • amended duties
  • workplace adaptations

The GP can also provide general details of the functional effect of the individual's condition.

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