Fit for Work – New Government Scheme

Fit work – The new Government scheme

depositphotos_9597668-Solution---Concepts-collectionEmployee absence is reported to be exceeding 130 million days per year.  HR support can help employers, but the Government is also offering additional free support by establishing a state funded service to help and support people get back to work.   The aim is to provide expert and impartial medical advice.   Will it be a HR solution to the problem of sickness absence – most feel we will just have to wait and see.

At the moment it is still being rolled out on a phased regional basis, but available now is a web and phone based support service.  There is also a library of information available.

medical crossEventually there will be access to a Referral Service where an independent Occupational Health professional will devise a step-by-step Return to Work plan to assist people to get back into paid work.

When available, the first route to access the Referral Service will be via the employee’s GP following 4 weeks of sickness absence.  Although this service can be accessed earlier if the absence is expected to be for a longer period.  Or, if an earlier referral, in the view of the GP, is likely to help the employee get back to work earlier.

If the GP does not make the referral then you, as the employer, will then have access this service (but all this can only happen with your employee’s consent).

Early indication is that it does seem to apply specific responsibilities on all employers to be more pro-active in supporting employees back into work.

I also feel it is important to note that the focus seems to be supporting an individual back into paid work, and not issues related to any business difficulties being caused by the absence.

It will also not provide advice on whether a condition may be classified as a disability under the Equality Act or not.  This in alone is not really very helpful to employers.

From information provided so far it would also seem they will not provide detailed advice on a medical condition. Instead they will adopt a more broad holistic assessment and look to reducing any barriers within the workplace to the individual returning to work.

Will it be of any real help to SMEs in reducing absence?  Only time will tell.  However it is free and may at least be a good first free step when dealing with a sickness related absence within your business.

However, research has supported that a strong Attendance procedure and structured Back to Work interviews and Capability procedure can, when combined, be the most effective way of reducing overall absences in a business.

We can help you implement both of these.  Why not call for a free 30 minute consultation on how best we can help you manage and reduce absence in your business.

In the meantime, if you want to see what is on offer so far here is the link:

Hello, I’m Carole Thomson.  I am a Freelance Senior HR professional and I founded HR Support for Business to give small and medium businesses access to a trusted HR Resource when they need HR support or advice.

If it concerns the management of your workforce then I can help you, whether a small issue or a larger redundancy, TUPE or change situation.

Just pick up the phone and contact me for a free 30 minute consultation so we can discuss how I can best help you.

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Based on the past needs of small businesses I have also developed key HR support packages.

These are designed to keep the quality of the HR resources and support high, but at a cost affordable to small businesses.

Why not have a look what is provided within the HR e-store:

  • HR Compliance in a Box
  • HR Micro Compliance in a Box
  • The HR Annual Retainer Service and;
  • Health and Safety Compliance in a Box.

I hope you have found this employment update useful.  As with all legislation it is best to have this laid out in your Employees Handbook.

A good Employee Handbook, with a strong Attendance and Capability policies and procedures will not only ensure your legal compliance, it is a guide for your managers and employees on how you want your business to operate.  Thereby protecting your business and laying the foundations for managing absence in your business.

This article has been extracted from our 2015 1st Quarter Employers Newsletter.  To read more just click here.

Call me and we can discuss how best I can help you.



Carole Thomson Chartered FCIPD, Tech IOSH
Senior HR Consultant
HR Support for Business
Tel: 078994 25916/ 079412 62492 /01295 788 579

About Carole Thomson

Following 16 years implementing HR solutions for businesses I founded HR Support for Business. Designed to be a one stop trusted HR Resource centre for small and medium businesses. Working locally or virtually we can be your HR team member when you need us. Or give SMEs access to tried and trusted HR contracts, policies and documentation. A self service HR resource to make it easier for SMEs to manage their people and save time and money in development and management time.

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