The new Fit for Work Service was launched in Lanarkshire, Tayside and Lothian on 26 January 2015. The service is aimed to make it easier for employees to return to work after periods of extended absence. It is expected that other health board areas will be joining the service shortly.
The system aims to provide a quick and free passage back into employment for an absent employee. Any employee in paid employment who has been absent for 4 weeks or more will be eligible for the service. After an employee has been absent for 4 weeks they can be referred to the scheme by their GP. If the GP does not refer the employee, this can be done by the employer. Any referral will need the explicit consent of the employee.
Once a referral has been made, a professionally qualified clinician will contact the employee. Consultation will normally be carried out by telephone. The employee will receive a phonecall within 2 working days. If the employee would prefer a face to face consultation, this will usually be done within 5 working days.
Back to Work Plan
The assessment will look at any barriers that may prevent the employee from returning to work and come up with a plan to counteract them. Employers will not have to implement any plans suggested to them by the assigned clinician, however the employer may be eligible for a tax free exemption of £500 if adjustments to the workplace or duties are required.
Access to Work
It is important to note that the current Access to Work scheme will continue to function. This is a scheme which offers grants to help employees with a disability, mental health or health issues begin or stay in work. Access to Work grants may be more appropriate for an employee who requires further adjustments.
For more information on the Fit for Work Service please visit www.fitforworkscotland.scot