Fit for Work referrals now available for all GPs in England and Wales
As of 22 July 2015, all GPs across England and Wales can refer their employed patients for a free and independent occupational health assessment if they have been, or are likely to be, off work for four weeks or more due to illness.
Referral to Fit for Work is voluntary, and is suitable for any employed person who has a realistic prospect of returning to work and for whom returning to work will not adversely affect their health. The assessment culminates in a personalised Return to Work Plan providing a schedule for a person’s return to work along with signposting to helpful services based around their needs.
GPs will continue to make decisions on day-to-day health care matters. When a GP makes a referral, Fit for Work will not have access to GPs’ notes, but only to any existing fit notes and any further information considered by GPs to be relevant to the absence or current treatment. Employers remain responsible for decisions on managing absence and paying statutory sick pay, and will now have access to better independent information when doing so. By autumn 2015, employers will be able to refer their eligible employees to Fit for Work themselves without the need to go via GPs.