29 October 2014

Even before it has been launched, the Government's latest initiative to help employers and employees manage sickness absence, the Health and Work Service, has been rebranded as Fit for Work.

The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) recently announced that Health Management Ltd had been appointed as the supplier to deliver the new service in England and Wales.

Fit for Work Scotland will be delivered by the Scottish Government, on behalf of the UK Government.

Employees on sick leave will be helped to return to work by providing them with an occupational health assessment when they reach, or are expected to reach, more than four weeks’ sickness absence.

Employees will normally be referred by their GP, with the resulting return to work plan being shared with their employer. Guidance will make clear that referral should be the default option.

The DWP said that the name had been changed "to more accurately reflect the nature and impact of the service".

Details of Fit for Work are available at http://bit.ly/10qzLrs and explain that, as well as the assessment part of its role, it will also offer advice to employers, employees and GPs via a phone line and website.

A tax exemption of up to £500 a year per employee on medical treatments recommended by Fit for Work or an employer-arranged occupational health service will be introduced. Without this exemption, the payment would be treated as a taxable benefit in kind, liable to income tax and employer National Insurance contributions.

From Paul Clarke, business writer for Croner