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.


How Banks are Cashing in on Wills image

How Banks are Cashing in on Wills

Recent headlines have reported how banks are now cashing in on Wills.

During the 1990s and early 2000s, banks offered customers low cost Wills (or sometimes even free Wills) but the small print allowed the bank to charge extortionate rates to act as Executors. It is reported that banks are expecting billions of pounds of revenue from their Will writing services and administering estates and in some cases their fees have been over £12,000 to administer an estate as they look to charge a fixed fee PLUS a percentage of the deceased’s wealth.

If you or a loved one has made a Will through a bank we would urge you to check who you have appointed as Executors and check any small print which you may have signed. If you are unsure then please speak with one of our lawyers in the Wills and Probate team who can look at your existing Will with you. It may be appropriate to make a new Will which revokes any previous Will you have made which could save your family thousands of pounds when your estate needs to be administered.

In the majority of cases, when someone has passed away we can provide the family with a quote of how much the legal fees will be so that there are no nasty surprises once the administration is complete.

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Daven Naghen LLB

"Daven provided an excellent service, from attending the first interview with me to the final court appearance. He filled me full of confidence that he would defend me to which he did and come out with an excellent outcome in view of my position that I had put myself in."

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.

Mike Pepper MA

Mike Pepper gave us excellent advice. He was always most helpful and accommodating giving lucid explanations every step of the way. Thank you Mike.

Claire Smith FCILEx

Claire Smith has been amazing in every way. I highly recommend her and I am so grateful for all her help. She’s professional on all levels, reliable, extremely organised and I will be recommending her to everyone. I’m very lucky to have had her representing me and I can’t thank her enough. She is an asset to Maples. Thanks so much Claire!