Summary guidance for employers has been published by the government detailing what the new Fit for Work (FfW) service provides and steps employers should follow to implement it. Insights include:
- Employers can now benefit from a tax exemption worth up to £500 per year, per employee, on medical treatments recommended through the FfW service or in-house occupational health services.
- Employees would be contacted within two working days of a referral by their GP or their employer, generally receiving an assessment over the telephone which will be done by an occupational health professional.
- Where face-to-face assessments are required, assessments will take place within five working days of the judgement being made.
- Employee consent must be provided at all stages of the assessment process, which should be “explicit, informed and freely given”.
- ‘Reasonable’ travel allowance may be claimed from the service provider when employees are required to travel to an assessment following a referral
- For an employer to make a referral, the employee must be absent for four weeks due to illness, while the GP can refer an employee who is likely to be absent for four weeks
- Employees will be discharged from the service when:
- they have returned to work (including a phased return),
- at the point that the FfW service is no longer able to provider further assistance
- if a return to work has not been possible after three months.
Nicola Prince, Director of Employee Benefits at Beckett says: “This guidance document enables employers to gain an understanding of the practicalities of using the service. We recommend that employers review their sickness absence policies to reflect changes brought in under the service.”