The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) has issued guidance for employers on the new, free Fit for Work (FFW) service which is aimed at reducing sick pay costs, by encouraging employees to return to work as early as possible with occupational health help, especially aimed at small to medium sized enterprises (SMEs).
FFW gives online and telephone advice and operates a non-mandatory referral service, through which you can refer eligible employees (once per year for each particular employee) if they have been on sick leave for four weeks.
FFW provides employees with an occupational health assessment (usually by phone) and a Return to Work Plan (the ‘Plan’). You can decide whether to implement the Plan, though the DWP encourages acting on the recommendations so you would need a good reason not to do so.
Employee consent will be needed for the referral, the content of the Plan (they can ask for certain parts of their Plan to be removed) and the sharing of the Plan with you. It remains to be seen whether the FFW case managers will understand employers’ specific workplace contexts.
FFW will be phased in over the next few months by May 2015. Employers should update their sickness absence policies now to prepare staff for engaging with the FFW process. Contact us for assistance with ensuring your policies are fully compliant.
For more information on this or any employment law issue, please contact a member of our employment team.
Posted on February 27, 2015