The Fit for Work initiative was introduced in September 2015 as a scheme to help employees stay in or return to work by providing free, expert and impartial general health and work advice to employees, employers and GPs. The aim was to reduce absence and sick pay costs by enabling employees to return to work earlier and providing SMEs with access to Occupational Health services that would normally be too costly for them.

However, the scheme has had poor take-up and after months of uncertainty over its future, the Government has now pulled the plug on the scheme. A new paper, Improving lives: the future of work, health and disability, states that Fit for Work’s assessment services will end in England and Wales on 31 March 2018 and 31 May 2018 in Scotland.

Given the low take-up, the scrapping of this scheme will have little impact on many businesses. However, what is interesting is that the same report states that there will be a reform of the Statutory Sick Pay Scheme (SSP) and the Statement of Fitness for Work (Fit Note).

Adelle Hutton, HR Consultant at EML, comments:


“We understand that the reforms of SSP will be aimed at promoting flexible working as a means of facilitating earlier returns to work. Consideration will be given to the recommendations contained in the Taylor Review of Modern Working Practices (e.g. in respect of SSP eligibility, accrual of entitlement and a ‘right to return’) and the Stevenson / Farmer Review of mental health and employers (e.g. in respect of financial incentives for employers, particularly SMEs, that adopt core standards to protect and improve the mental health of their employees). Proposals for reform of the Fit Note include extending certification powers to other healthcare professionals, training GPs in appropriate use with a view to facilitating more constructive return-to-work conversations.”


If you would like to discuss any of the issues raised in this blog further, please do not hesitate to contact one of our HR consultants. We supply not just commercially minded employment law advice and bespoke HR services, but a comprehensive employment tribunal representation service to our clients. Our experienced HR support consultants have defended thousands of claims over the years and will handle any claims you receive, ranging from straightforward unfair dismissals to complex discrimination cases.