Fit for Work scheme

Topic Index
Scope of Fit for Work scheme
Consent and Fit for Work
Referrals under the Fit for Work scheme
Tax exemptions for medical interventions recommended by Fit for Work
Fit for Work: return-to-work plans
Implications for absence management of Fit for Work
Fit for Work – HR action points
Resources - Fit for Work


  • The responsibility GPs had to assess their patients’ long-term capability for work has been passed to a new occupational health service - the Fit for Work scheme (FfW).
  • There are two websites: Fit for Work - England and Wales and Fit for Work - Scotland.
  • The FfW is a state-funded, assessment service for any employee who is off work for 4 weeks or more ill or injured.
  • A referral to the FfW should be made after 4 weeks’ continuous absence, this being the point when the government considers it’s likely that a longer-term absence will occur with the increased risk that an employee will move on to claiming state benefits.
  • Employees will normally be referred by their GP but in some cases employers can make a referral (the employer referral facility went live in England and Wales from September 2015). 
  • FfW is not compulsory; an employee must agree to participate.
  • FfW aims to signpost relevant interventions that might return the employee to the workplace more quickly. FfW will make an assessment and produce a return-to-work plan. Some of the findings of FfW can be used by both employers and employees to make adjustments in the workplace that might lead to a shortened absence. Alternatively, the assessment process might result in the employee being given early signposting to medical treatments.
  • FfW is intended to complement, rather than replace, existing occupational health provision. Where appropriate, FfW will engage with an employer's existing occupational health providers to formulate and facilitate return-to-work plans. 
  • FfW is expected to be of particular value in SMEs where there is no, or limited, employer occupational health support available.
  • The service is a telephone/web-based assessment tool for the majority of users.
  • A tax relief, capped at an annual expenditure of £500 per employee, is available to help employers fund the treatment staff. 
  • The helpline is operational: 0800 032 6235, 8.30am to 6pm, Monday to Friday.
  • The roll out of FfW was fully completed in July 2015. 
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