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Fit for work scheme scrapped

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The Fit for Work scheme (FFW) will end from 31 March 2018 in England and Wales, with Scotland withdrawing the scheme on 31 May 2018.

FFW was intended to provide a free GP-led service, which allowed employers to refer staff to the service. It offered impartial advice to employers and occupational health assessments for employees who were off work due to sickness related reasons for four weeks or more. The aim was to then assist employees who are off on long-term sickness absence to return to work as early as possible, in turn reducing the costs facing employers.

The scheme failed to make any inroads, with as many as 65% of GP’s failing to make a referral in the past year. Employers also complained that it duplicated their own Occupational Health arrangements.

They have proposed to introduce a “flexible model” of Statutory Sick Pay (SSP), with the aim of better supporting those with mental health conditions. Where the individual is able and willing to return to work on a phased and voluntary basis, they will be entitled to receive their wages and SSP on a “pro-rata basis”.

Finally, the government have also announced plans to invest around £39m to increase the number of employment advisers available through the NHS Improving Access to a Psychological Therapies service (IAPT). This will typically focus on offering support for treating people with depression and anxiety disorders.

Long term absences can have a damaging effect on a business but there are steps that you can take to address such issues. We have produced some guidelines on managing sickness absence which can be found here.

This article is intended as a guide and for general information only and is not a substitute for taking specific advice relating to your situation. For specific advice regarding this or any other issue relating to employment law, speak to one of our advisors by calling 01455 444222 or complete our contact form and an advisor will be in touch shortly

Angela Clay

A qualified employment law solicitor and our managing director, Angela has unparalleled legal expertise and decades of experience and knowledge to draw from. She’s a passionate speaker and writer that loves to keep employers updated with upcoming changes to legislation, and is a regular guest speaker on BBC Leicester Radio.

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