Use the Fit to Work Service
Our last post, yesterday, talked about seeking medical advice to assist with managing absence and this will be getting a whole lot easier throughout 2015.
The Government launched the new Fit to Work service in May 2015 to enable both GP's and Employers to refer individuals for independent assessment regarding their ability to work. The service is aimed at stopping thousands of people falling out of work and onto long-term sickness benefits. Whilst this is currently only open for GP referrals, employers will be able to refer employees from Autumn 2015. Stay tuned and we'll let you know when employer referrals will begin.
The assessments are carried out by occupational health professionals who will identify obstacles preventing the employee from returning to work. From there, the OH professional will produce a Return to Work Plan tailored to the employee’s needs.
Given that GP's in 18 out of 34 regions (including all Midlands regions) can now refer patients to the service, it is highly probable that you will receive a tailored work plan if you have a member of staff who has been off work for 4 weeks or more.
This is a much welcomed initiative from the Government, but is not designed to replace existing medical reporting. There will still be many situations where more specific advice is necessary, for example with protracted and serious illnesses, the employees on GP, specialist or consultant will be able to give the most tailored and specific advice about their patient and so it's important to ensure that you're using the most effective method for your employee.
For more information about how the Fit to Work Service will impact you and your absence management strategies, please contact us.
To catch up with the rest of the 10 Points on Absence Management, click here.