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New guidance for employers on Fit for Work scheme

Employers will welcome new guidance Fit for Work: Guidance for employers from the Department for Work and Pensions on the new Fit for Work service, and a website introducing the new service.

The two elements of the new service are an occupational health assessment for employees, and an advice service. It will run alongside existing occupational health schemes, if employers have one.

Under the scheme an employee will usually be referred for an assessment by their GP after four weeks’ sick leave (or if the GP anticipates the sick leave will last at least four weeks). If the GP has not referred an employee for an assessment after four weeks the employer can do so. The assessment can be made face-to-face or over the phone.

The outcome of an assessment is a ‘return to work’ plan recommending ways to get the employee working again more quickly – such as retraining, homeworking or medical care; and sources of help and advice.

Employees are entitled to a tax exemption of up to £500 if they are receiving medical treatment either recommended by the service or arranged by their employer, as the treatment would otherwise be treated as a benefit in kind (and therefore income tax and employer National Insurance contributions would be payable).

The advice service is available to employers, employees and their GPs over the phone. The Government has also launched a new Fit for Work website introducing the new service, with sections for employers, employees and GPs.

Operative date

• Now

Recommendation

• Download the new guidance from the gov.uk website, visit the Fit for Work website and review your sickness absence policies to see if changes are needed.

13 February 2015

Jonathan Waters has over 12 years of experience advising businesses in relation to commercial disputes and how to avoid or resolve them. He has a particular interest in construction law and adjudication, and he is currently studying for an Msc in Construction Law & Dispute Resolution at King’s College. Before starting Helix Law, he was the partner in charge of Commercial Litigation, Employment Law and Property Litigation at Stephen Rimmer LLP. He has a degree in Business Administration and before qualifying as a solicitor he worked in industry and investment banking for over a decade.

This article is written to raise awareness of the issues it discusses and it may not be updated after it is first written, even if the law changes. It is not intended to be legal advice and cannot be relied on as such. Helix Law is not responsible or liable for any action taken or not taken as a result of  this article. If you think the matters set out affect you and you wish to apply them to your particular circumstances then we are happy to give you free initial telephone advice. 

Contact Helix Law on 01273 761 990 or email: [email protected]