The Fit for Work referral process – what you need to know

Written by: Fit for Work team | Posted in: Blog

referralsWho is eligible?

Fit for Work offers an assessment service for people who are currently employed. Employees are eligible to be referred if they have been off sick from work for four weeks or more.

Who can make referrals to Fit for Work?

Only the individual’s General Practitioner (GP) or employer can make a referral. This is normally done after four weeks of sickness absence, but GPs can refer patients sooner if they expect the absence will continue for at least four weeks.

Individuals cannot self-refer so should speak to their GP/employer to make a referral.

How to make a referral


o   Visit the employer page of the Fit for Work website.

o   Click on ‘refer an employee’.

o   Enter company/employer details (saved for future referrals), key details about the employee and the reason for referral

o   Click ‘submit’.


Call 0800 032 6235 to speak to an advisor.


o   Visit the GP page of the Fit for Work website.

o   Click on ‘refer a patient’.

o   Enter practice details (saved for future referrals), key details about the patient and the reason for referral.

o   Click ‘submit’.


Call 0800 032 6235 to speak to an advisor.

Does my employee/patient have to consent to a referral?

Yes, the service is voluntary. Employees/patients must give verbal consent to be referred, and again to have their Return to Work Plan shared with their employer and/or GP.

What’s the outcome of a Fit for Work referral?

People referred to Fit for Work will normally be contacted by a case manager within two working days and offered an in-depth telephone assessment. This normally lasts about 45 minutes and will help identify any obstacles preventing them returning to work. They will be provided with advice and recommendations on how these obstacles could be addressed and where possible a return to work date will be agreed.

Details of the assessment are recorded in a Return to Work Plan, which can be shared with the GP and employer if the employee agrees. The Return to Work Plan can be used by the employer as evidence of sickness absence in lieu of a Fit Note, so the employee will not need to return to their GP for a Fit Note.

What are the advantages of Fit for Work?

For employers:

  • Employees return to work sooner so the costs of sickness absence are reduced.
  • Employers get access to free work-related health advice and free occupational health assessments for employees who have reached, or are expected to reach, four weeks or more of sickness absence.
  • Employers get a tax exemption on payments of up to £500 (per year, per employee) on medical interventions that are recommended.

For employees:

  • Access to free, professional return to work advice for those who want to get back to work sooner.
  • An earlier, more manageable and sustained return to work covering health, work and personal factors, as well as reduced risk of job loss and welfare dependency.
  • Fit for Work can help bridge the gap between employees and employers with independent occupational health advice and support.

For GPs:

  • Accessible expert support around the clinical management of sickness absence (enhancing the service GPs can offer their patients).
  • Saved time spent on repeated sickness absence visits.

To find out more about how Fit for Work can help you manage sickness absence, visit the Fit for Work website or call the freephone advice line on 0800 032 6235 (English) or 0800 032 6233 (Cymraeg).

For Scotland, contact 0800 019 2211 or visit


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