- It is fair to say that as a society we have moved away from the old fashioned notion that those with a health condition are unable to work and being away from work is in their best interests.
- In fact the evidence suggests that the longer an employee remains away from work the less likely they are to return.
- The Government has launched a new service that allows employers and GP to make free Occupational Health referrals for employees off work for four weeks or more. In this blog I will discuss the government’s rationale and whether your organisation can utilise this service.
The service is not fully operational but will be fully rolled out across England and Wales over the next few months. So what does it offer to employers?
- Where an employee is absent for four week’s an employer can refer the employee to Occupational Health for free – research suggests that intervention at this early stage facilitates return to work.
- After the referral the OH specialist will devise a Return to Work Plan to support an employee back into work. This could be used by both employers and employees to make adjustments in the workplace that might lead to a shortened absence or even signposting for relevant medical treatments.
- Finally the service offers free work related health advice online and over the telephone so you can discuss any queries with a specialist advisor at an early stage.
We understand that for employers managing sickness absence is no easy task and there is a need to strike the balance between managing the costs involved and supporting employees in their return to work. That’s why at Real People we welcome the introduction of this free and impartial service. It is important to note that the service is entirely voluntary and all referrals will be based on the informed consent of the employee. However we hope the employers and employees alike recognise the key benefits and engage with the service to ensure a safe and sustainable return to the workplace.
For more information on the Fit for Work Service, you can visit the website: http://fitforwork.org/