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Government publishes guidance on new ‘Fit for Work’ service

The Government has published guidance on its new Fit for Work service, which aims to help tackle the problem of long-term sickness absence.

The aim of the service is to facilitate the return to work of employees who have been off sick for a period of four weeks or more.

Aimed principally at small and medium-sized businesses, the service will allow employers to refer their employees – with their consent – for an occupational health assessment. This may take the form of a telephone call.

Following the assessment, a return-to-work plan will be created, including recommendations for employers on how to assist the employee with their return to work.

A tax exemption of up to £500 per year per employer will be available for spending on medical treatments which help employees to return to work.

The new service was originally named the Health and Work Service, but was subsequently rebranded as Fit for Work (in England and Wales), and Fit for Work Scotland.

The Department for Work and Pensions is advising employers to update their sickness policies to reflect the existence of the new service.