Fit for work assessments to be scrapped
15 December 2017 #Sickness & Absence
The Government’s Fit for Work assessment scheme is to end following low referral rates, marking the beginning of a revised strategy to get more disabled people into the workplace.
The Fit for Work referral service was launched to help employers manage sickness absence in the workplace. It was designed to offer impartial advice for employers, as well as occupational health assessments for employees who are absent from work for 4 or more weeks. The Government has announced that the referral service is to end from 15 December 2017. The helpline, website and webchat services will continue.
Despite its honourable intentions, the scheme has received its fair share of criticism with some employers believing that the scheme replicated their own occupational health efforts.
These announcements follow the publication of the White Paper “Improving lives: the future of work, health and disability”. This paper sets out the government’s plans to “transform employment prospects for disabled people and those with long term health conditions over the next 10 years”. Key reforms include:
- Providing personalised financial and employment support to individuals;
- Fit note certification will extend from GPs to other healthcare professionals;
- Changes to statutory sick pay to support more flexible working to help support phased returns to work; and
- Proposals to invest £39 million to increase the number of mental health employment advisors available through the NHS.
It will be interesting to see how these proposed reforms will be implemented in practice and we will keep you informed of the latest developments.
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