Employers willing to engage to reduce long-term sickness absence
Employers have shown willing to engage with the new Fit for Work service, according to figures from the 2015/16 Jelf Employee Benefits survey.
Almost 7 in 10 employers said they are referring some (42%) or all (27%) of their long-term absences to Fit for Work, while a further 22% have a company occupational health scheme in place to make the referrals.
The research also revealed that nearly half (45%) of employers would be communicating details of the Fit for Work service to their employees in the next 12 months: a further sign that employers intend to utilise the new tool in absence management.
The service has been nationally available since September 2015, and provides employers of all sizes with a free assessment service to identify if any early interventions could speed up a return to work for the absent employee.
Steve Herbert, head of benefits strategy at Jelf Employee Benefits said: “Evidence from the Fit Note exercise suggests that in the early years it is probably unlikely that many referrals to Fit for Work will arise from family doctors. So it is hugely encouraging – and indeed important for UK absence rates – that employers remain willing to grasp the nettle of engagement with this new service.
“Our figures suggest that many more absent employees will now benefit from an assessment by an Occupational Health professional either via Fit for Work, or a more bespoke company-sponsored Occupational Health arrangement. This can only be a good thing for all concerned.”
In his blog series, Carl Chapman, head of workplace wellbeing at Barnett Waddingham, has examined the various steps employers can take to look after the wellness of their employees.