We’ve just held our first Roadshow event in Newcastle, closely followed by one in Cardiff and Leeds, and many others taking place across the country over the next few weeks. At the sold-out event, Fit for Work representatives teamed up with the North East region of workplace advice and conciliation service Acas, to deliver a briefing on the service.
Representatives of businesses from across the North East attended the event, looking to find out more about referring their employees the service and how to manage the impact of sickness absence on their organisations. Attendees included Newcastle City Council, Big Lottery Fund, Newcastle Upon Tyne NHS Foundation Trust and Newcastle University.
Also at the event was Tony Tatoli, Payroll & HR Services Manager for Integral UK Ltd. He said:
“Fit for Work will provide our business with an additional support mechanism in managing employee absence and welfare as well as helping our management teams to facilitate their employee’s return to work which in turn will improve work/home life balance. The Fit for Work Roadshow was an extremely useful method of promoting the key elements of the scheme and to obtain direct feedback from the team.”
As part of the Roadshow, a question and answer session was held, with members of the Fit for Work team and the Department of Work and Pensions on hand to answer any questions from attendees. We’ve noted down some questions which were raised by attendees and their resulting answers for anyone who wasn’t able to make the event:
Q: What’s the capacity of the Fit for Work team to ensure you deal with demand properly?
A: The Fit for Work team will be expanded as the service grows to make sure that we are always scaling up to work with the demand for the service. We contact every employee within two working days of their referral to the service, and will continue to ensure that this deadline is met moving forwards.
Q: How many times is someone eligible for referral?
A: If a person completes their Fit for Work referral and initially makes a successful return to work, they then cannot be referred back to Fit for Work within the next 12 months. However, the Fit for Work advice line is a resource for those looking for advice and support in getting employees back to work, even outside of a referral. You can call the advice line on 0800 032 6235.
Q: Feedback from the occupational health community has been largely positive. How do you envisage Fit for Work working alongside existing occupational health services?
A: It’s not an either/or situation – we see Fit for Work as a complementary service to existing occupational health services. There will of course be limits to the Fit for Work service – for example, a Fit for Work case manager would not have the in-depth knowledge of a workplace that someone who worked at the company would have. Fit for Work will work alongside existing services, offering impartial, free support where needed.
Employers can refer their employees on long-term sickness absence if they have been off work for four weeks or more. Refer an employee on the Fit for Work website, or call the advice line on 0800 032 6235 to find out more.