The fit for work scheme has been introduced to enable you to work with your employees and plan their return to work after a long term absence.
Long term absence is defined within the scheme as ‘absence lasting, or expected to last, four weeks or more’. The scheme offers referral to a professional occupational health service, so that the employee’s health can be assessed and practical advice can be given regarding helping an employee get back to work following a period of absence.
As with any request to access medical information, the employee will need to agree to the assessment and you must be mindful of the data protection principles that apply to the use of medical information which is classed as ‘sensitive data’ under the act.
The service is not mandatory, so if you already have a good framework in place for managing longer term absence then there is no need to change.
So, if you decide to use the service, what should you expect?
Following referral, the service offers an initial assessment, a return to work plan and practical advice for employers and employees, operating within set timescales to ensure minimum delays.
The ultimate goal is to prepare a plan to aid the employee in their return to work, including recommendations for reasonable adjustments, continuing support and next steps.
We will support you in reviewing your internal procedures and work with you to consider whether introducing the scheme could be beneficial to your organisation. Please get in touch with Steve Sweetlove or your usual RSM contact for more information.