Fit for Work provides free, independent, impartial and professional support for employers who are helping employees facing extended periods of sickness absence.

9th July 2015

Fit for Work is a voluntary referral service which will support you and your employees by providing access to occupational health professionals for employees who have been, or are likely to be, off sick for four weeks or more.

A personalised Return to Work Plan will be agreed, which will signpost those on long-term sickness absence to relevant services, and provide a planned period to return to work. Employers will remain responsible for decisions on managing absence and paying statutory sick pay. However, Fit for Work will offer access to better independent information when doing so, and could help cut sick pay contributions by helping employees return to work sooner. Employers will not only benefit from a quicker return to work, but also a £500 tax exemption per year, per employee, on medical treatments that have been recommended. Between October 2010 and September 2014, on average almost one million employees had a sickness absence period of four weeks or more each year. This can be costly for an employer, especially if the employee is off for a long period of time. Because Fit for Work will support employees while at work, or to return to work if they are expected to be off for over four weeks, it is estimated that the service will cut sick pay costs to business by £80-165 million a year, and increase economic output by up to £900 million a year. Currently, GPs across many parts of England and Wales can refer patients (see roll out map), and by autumn 2015 employers will be able to refer their employees to Fit for Work directly, without the need for employees to be referred by their GPs. If you have employees who are off sick, or if you would like to find out more information about the referral service, visit the Fit for Work website. Here you can also find guidance and support on work-related health issues in the form of an advice hub, live chat and the chance to ask questions by email. There is also a free telephone advice line (0800 032 6235 for English speakers, and 0800 032 6233 for Welsh speakers). You can also get involved in order to receive updates on Fit for Work.

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