The health and wellbeing of staff should be of upmost important to all employers – they are the key to the smooth operation of your business after all. However, everyone suffers when illness strikes and long-term sickness can have a huge impact on both your employee and your company. That’s why the Government has rolled out a new scheme called Fit For Work to help you take action and manage the situation.
In the past, an employer would need to wait until the individual’s GP made a Fit To Work referral, but under the terms of this new initiative you can do it yourself. Surprisingly, 60% of GPs and 75% of employees remain completely unaware of the new scheme so it’s important for you to know the full details of yourself.
Most importantly, be mindful of the eligibility conditions. They are as follows:
- Your employee must have been absent from work due to illness for four weeks or more.
- They must have a reasonable likelihood of making at least a phased return to work.
- They must not have already been referred for a Fit For Work assessment within the previous twelve months, and have not received a return-to-work plan as a result.
- They must have provided their consent to being referred – consent must be explicit, informed and freely given.
As the employee must freely give their consent to being referred to the Fit For Work scheme, its important you get that in place before you proceed. However, if they do refuse to agree, this weakens their ability to return to work later.
Once you’ve made a referral, one of the Fit For Work team of occupational health professionals will contact the employee in question. They will assess the individual and if the conclusion is that they can look at coming back, a ‘return to work’ plan will be devised between them. That plan is then shared with both you as their employer and their GP.
The aim is that by having an option to manage the long-term sickness of your staff member after four weeks, employers will no longer feel as powerless in this difficult situation.