Maria*, a Sales Engineer at Marshall Tufflex, a cable manufacturing firm in Hastings, had been off work for more than 4 weeks when her employer suggested she use Fit for Work.
“I had been dealing with neck and back pain for a long time,” explains Maria*. “My doctors still weren’t sure what was wrong with me and were doing lots of tests. I work in sales, so most of my job is made up of driving, and sitting for long periods at a time was causing me a serious amount of pain. I was often in the car for hours at a time, so the thought of going back to work without some changes being made was really stressful”
The inflexible nature of Maria’s work was exacerbating her health problems. “When you’re sat in a car all day it’s difficult to make real adjustments to manage pain; I had a lumbar support in the car but it wasn’t helping much. I knew I needed to adjust my working hours so I could cope better, but I wasn’t sure how to go about it. When my HR manager suggested that I give Fit for Work a try, I asked my GP to refer me – and by the next day I was called by a Fit for Work case manager.”
Maria received her Return to Work Plan by email the same day as her telephone assessment. “Getting professional, independent advice was invaluable – it really helped to take the pressure off me. Fit for Work spoke to my HR manager and we made some adjustments – I started back at work on reduced hours, and I’m currently increasing my workload at a more manageable rate, making sure I keep my HR manager in the loop with how I’m doing.
“I think that agreeing to be referred to Fit for Work really demonstrated to my employer that I was open to coming back. It definitely helped to show my positive attitude towards my workplace, which got my employer onside as they could see for certain that I really wanted to start working again. After they spoke to Fit for Work, they understood my condition a lot better and had enough information on the actions they could take to help rehabilitate me.”
Dr. Kevin Hall, Maria’s GP, says:
“I hadn’t heard about Fit for Work before Maria came to me and asked me to refer her, but I thought it sounded like a good idea so was happy to help her. Her neck and back pain was quite severe and there were underlying degenerative changes meaning that it wasn’t improving.
“Maria was obviously very eager to get back to work so Fit for Work definitely helped – it got her back to work much quicker than she otherwise would have been able to. It also saved me time – once I referred her to Fit for Work I knew she was in good hands, as she was then dealing with someone who could spend much more time going into her condition in-depth than I would have had time for. Because the Return to Work Plan from Fit for Work acts as a fit note, it also meant that she didn’t have to make an appointment with me to get fit notes, which again saved me time.”
*name has been changed