Fit for Work assessments to be scrapped

The Fit for Work occupational health scheme is to be scrapped due to low take up among employers.

From 31 March 2018 (in England and Wales) and from 31 May 2018 (in Scotland) the occupational health assessments offered by Fit for Work (FfW) for those off sick for four weeks or more will be scrapped. No new referrals will be accepted after 15 December 2017 (in England and Wales); the corresponding date for Scotland hasn’t yet been set.

The scheme has struggled to make an impact with many employers saying it simply replicates their own OH schemes. Employers will continue to be able to use the FfW helpline, website and web chat services for advice and support on sickness absence issues. 

This development forms part of the government’s latest White Paper – Improving Lives: The Future of Work, Health and Disability. Among the other plans in the White Paper are:

  • reforming Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) to facilitate more flexible working, e.g. to help support phased returns to work including spacing out working days during a return to work, managing a long-term health condition, or recovering from illness
  • introducing of a framework for large employers voluntarily to report on mental health and disability within their organisations, and
  • expanding fit note certification to other healthcare professionals