Are you and your business 'Fit for Work'?

25 September 2015

Sickness absences cost UK employers an estimated £9billion a year and is one of the biggest employment issues that companies consistently face. Oliver Tasker, senior solicitor, takes a look at one Government initiative which aims combat this headache - the newly introduced Fit for Work (FFW) Service.

Sickness absences cost UK employers an estimated £9billion a year and is one of the biggest employment issues that companies consistently face. One Government initiative to combat this headache is the newly introduced Fit for Work (FFW) Service. The service is now available in Lincolnshire and East Yorkshire, however most employers are still unaware of what it can offer. Oliver Tasker, Senior Solicitor and employment specialist, guides us through the essentials.

The aim of this free scheme is to keep employees with health problems at work or in the event of a sickness absence, to get them back to work as soon as possible. This is achieved in two ways:

  • Firstly, expert occupational health (OH) advice is available via telephone and online through detailed practical guidance notes, online chat facility and via email, to help employers manage and deal with sickness absences and common problems. 
  • Secondly, employees can now be referred to an OH professional for a detailed assessment if they have been off sick or they are likely to be off sick for four weeks. Following the assessment a return to work plan will be produced and sent to the employer with recommendations they can implement to facilitate a return to work.

Two issues are that the report will only be available with the employees consent and the majority of assessments will be carried out over the telephone rather than face to face which instantly raises questions over the validity of the service. 

With the service being within its infancy, there appear to be advantages and disadvantages that may indicate this is not a cure for businesses. We do recommend that you update contracts of employment and sickness policies to reflect the new Fit for Work service so that employees are fully aware of the procedure and service.

If you would like any further information please do get in contact with me or one of my colleagues. We'll be happy to help and can guide you through any sickness absence and help you update your contracts and policies to make the most of this new service.


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