• Following an announcement by the Government last year that a new Health and Work Service would be launched in late 2014, a website has been launched for the Government renamed Fit for Work service, which will provide occupational health assessments and assist employees who have been absent for four weeks or more to return to work. This should be beneficial for smaller businesses that could not necessarily afford the assistance of an independent occupational health service and therefore had no choice but to rely on reports from the employees G.P.

    The aim of the scheme is to assist employers and their staff to manage sickness absence and aid the return to work process with G.P’s referring patients that they think will benefit from the scheme.

    The scheme has resulted from a government review of sickness absence and the government response which accepted a recommendation to introduce an independent assessment service.

    Employees and employers can now obtain “free, expert and impartial work-related health advice” via the new website and featured telephone advice line. However, there is currently no indication of when the referral service for employees who have been absent for four weeks or more will actually be available, although the website states that a phased roll-out will take place “over a period of months”.

    This content is correct at time of publication

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