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This new scheme is due to be rolled out across the whole of the UK in May 2015 and aims to provide occupational health assessments to assist employees who are absent due to sickness to return to work to employees who have been absent from work for four weeks or more provided there is a reasonable prospect of returning to work.
The new Fit For Work (FFW) Service aims to provide:
GPs will undoubtedly be the primary source of referrals to the scheme but Employers will also be able to refer employees to FFW if their GP has not done so after 4 weeks of absence, provided the employee has not already been referred in previous 12 months or received a return to work plan.
FFW is delivered by registered occupational healthcare professionals who have occupational health qualifications; have occupational health experience; or are able to demonstrate experience and skills appropriate to working in an occupational health context. They will be trained, "appropriately supervised" and under the overall direction of an accredited specialist in Occupational Medicine. They will also have access to professionals with appropriate competencies in musculoskeletal and mental health conditions.
As is the case currently with obtaining GP and/or Occupational Health reports for an employee, consent must be obtained before an Employer can make a referral and the doing so is not mandatory, neither is implementing the recommendations made in Return to Work Plans.
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