The introduction of 2015 has seen the start of a new Government scheme to help employees get back to work after a period of illness. The free service intends to reduce the amount of long-term sickness absence that continues to affect the UK workforce by a reported £15 billion each year.

UK employers will know all too well how sickness absence can affect their organisation. Any type of unplanned employee absence will bring issues such as payment queries and work cover implications. But each long-term sickness absence also brings with it an on-going worry of when an employee will be well enough to return to work.

From the other viewpoint, sick employees may have additional concerns about their job security if they need to take a long period of time off work.

In response, a new initiative by the government is being introduced this year to help resolve long-term absence issues for both employers and employees.

Fit for Work Scheme

The new Fit for Work scheme is a free service that will aim to offer advice and support to employees who have been suffering from a period of illness or injury for more than four weeks. It will also offer independent advice to employers and GP’s on how they can help with their employee’s return to work process.

Return to Work Support and Advice

Through the scheme, employees can receive an occupational health (OH) assessment, typically via telephone. Following the assessment, return to work plans will be provided to both the employee and employer to help tackle the issue in hand; providing necessary referrals for medical treatment to help with the employee’s recovery.

The service can also help to solve any underlying issues preventing employees from returning to work, such as communication barriers with managers or other colleagues. Recommendations can also be made as to how to introduce employees back into their working environment through methods such as phased return to work periods, or allowing working from home privileges.

2015 UK Roll out Plans

The scheme has already been pilot tested in Leicestershire and has so far been a success, with many workers and organisations benefitting from the services it offers. The Government has announced that plans are in place to stage out the scheme across the UK in the next few months.

e-days® Sickness and Return to Work Features

e-days®  includes a variety of features that can assist alongside the new Fit for Work scheme. Sickness instances can be logged accurately against each employee, sending alerts to managers when absences have exceeded a certain amount of time. This can help managers to identify the best time to seek advice and support from the Fit for Work scheme, and when to offer help directly to the employee to get them back to work as quickly as possible.

Additionally, e-days® also has built-in return to work forms that are automatically pre-populated each time sick leave is recorded. This can ease the return to work process for both the employee and manager, making the transition back to work as easy and efficient as possible.

View the full range of e-days sickness features