New Government “Fit for Work” Scheme

9th September 2015
New Government “Fit for Work” Scheme image

New Government “Fit for Work” Scheme

Introduction

Unfortunately the country has got a reputation for being “Sick Note Great Britain” as on average a worker in this country has 9.1 days of absence per year due to sickness.  This does not compare too favourably with our United States counter parts who only have 4.9 days of sickness absence per year, and our friends in Western Europe who average 7.3 days of sickness per year.

Accountants reckon this problem costs our economy around £29 billion per annum.  As a result the government have felt the need to try and assist some/medium sized businesses by providing the “Fit for Work” Scheme.  Primarily the Scheme is designed to assist small/medium sized businesses who do not have their own HR/occupational health department and cannot afford to do so.  It is hoped that the Scheme will help such businesses reduce absence due to sickness by getting employees back to work.

What does the Scheme cover

There are three benefits/elements to the Scheme.

Firstly there is free access to a website and telephone advice line for advice on any work related health matters.  The website is www.fitforwork.org and the telephone number is 0800 0326235.

The second element is a free referral to an occupational health assessment for employees/workers who have reached or a GP expects them to reach 4 weeks of continuous sickness absence.

Currently the referral can only be made by a GP, but in the very near future (at a date yet to be confirmed) an employer will be able to make the referral.

Following the referral this will lead to a “Return to Work Plan” designed to get the employee back to work, which may include suggestions that the employer makes reasonable adjustments to the workplace and/or the employee undertakes rehabilitation such as counselling, physiotherapy etc.

The third and final part of the Scheme is that the government have introduced a tax exemption of up to £500 per annum per employee for medical treatment if it is recommended as part of a “Return to Work Plan”.

Is the Scheme compulsory?

The Scheme is not compulsory and can only work if both the employer and the employee/worker consent to the process.

Furthermore neither party is duty bound to follow the recommendations in the “Return to Work Plan”.

Having said that, Daven Naghen, head of our Employment Team, commented as follows:-

“From an employer’s prospective the Scheme is most useful as it provides free help and assistance in dealing with sickness absence.  However if an employer does go down the route of using the Scheme and getting a “Return to Work Plan” for his employee, then there may be dangers in not following the plan.  For example if subsequently the employee is dismissed for a reason relating to sickness/absence then the employee might argue that the employer has been unreasonable in not following/adhering to a “Return to Work Plan”.  Similarly if there is a disability discrimination type claim, then an employee may have a stronger case for arguing that an employer is not made reasonable adjustments if say they are recommended in a “Return to Work Plan”.

However on balance I think that the Scheme is a good idea for some/medium sized businesses who cannot afford their own HR/occupational health support – it just remains to be seen how this Scheme works in practice and what quality of service is provided.”

If you are an employer or employee/worker who requires advice on this new Scheme or any issues relating to sickness absence then please contact Daven on 01775 722261 or email daven.naghen@maplessolicitors.com or contact/visit our offices at 23 New Road, Spalding, Lincolnshire, PE11 1DH.


Maples supporting Macmillan Coffee Morning image

Maples supporting Macmillan Coffee Morning

On 29th September 2017 Maples Solicitors LLP will be hosting a coffee morning as part of Macmillan’s “World’s Biggest Coffee Morning”.

Tea, coffee and cakes will be served from 10:00am until 1:00pm and all donations received will go to Macmillan Cancer Support to assist them with providing medical, emotional, practical and financial support to those facing cancer and their families.

At the same time, Maples will also be running a free Wills, Lasting Powers of Attorney and Probate clinic so that whilst you are in the office you may take the opportunity to discuss any of these with one of the Private Client Team with no obligation to commit. You can use the time to raise any questions you may have about making a Will, who you could appoint as Executors, whether you need a Power of Attorney or how a Power of Attorney works, for example.

Maples hope to see their existing clients join them for the coffee morning and very much look forward to meeting new people- everyone is welcome!

If you would like to discuss any matters in relation to Wills, Lasting Powers of Attorney or any Probate related matters prior to the coffee morning then please contact one of the lawyers in our private client team:-

Jane Mawer- jane.mawer@maplessolicitors.com
Jamie Dobbs- jamie.dobbs@maplessolicitors.com
Faye Blair- faye.blair@maplessolcitors.com

Or telephone the office on 01775 722261 and ask to speak with one of the team.

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Daven Naghen LLB

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Faye Blair LLB

Faye was excellent, sensitive and acted very well to the time constraints we faced. Great service and dealt with compassion at such sad times made the process less painful very professional.

Jamie Dobbs ACILEx

Over the last forty years I have cause to deal with many law firms both in a personal and professional capacity, including some ‘top’ London Companies. In all of those dealings I have never found anyone as proactive and so willing to offer help and advice as Jamie Dobbs. During the last two years Jamie guided my parents through the completion of Lasting Powers of Attorney. Helped myself with the use of the LPA and recently dealing with Probate and Estate Administration following their death.

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Anita Zaborniak

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