From autumn 2015 Employers will be able to refer employees to an independent Fit for Work Service (FFWS) set up by the Government. Until now, employed persons who have been off work for 4 weeks or longer could only be referred to the service by their GP, but this is about to change.

People on sick leave will be helped to return to work by being provided with an occupational health assessment when they have been, or are expected to be, off work for 4 weeks or longer. Case Managers will help to develop a return-to-work plan, which will be shared with the Employer, with recommendations to help the employee get back to their job more quickly.

Case Managers will liaise with Employers to discuss Risk Assessment of the Workplace, with a view to any changes which could facilitate the return to work.

General health and work advice will be available through a website and phone line.

According to statistics, around 815,000 employees in England each year have sickness leave lasting 4 weeks or more. This is an obvious disruption to small and medium sized organizations, who are less likely to have access to Occupational Health Services. Lack of such support often means that people struggle to return to work following long absence through sickness or injury.

By Peter Rowan, Senior Health & Safety Consultant, Alcumus