Abandoned Fit for Work Scheme report demonstrates its failings

According to a Government report, the advice offered to employees who tried to use the now abandoned “Fit for Work” scheme was not tailored enough for their employers to put into practice.

Fit for Work, which was established in December 2014, was intended to help employees who had been off work for four weeks or more, or were at risk of being so, return to the workplace. Initially, only GPs could refer people to the programme, but it was extended in September 2015 so employers could refer their staff.

However, last November the Government announced that it would be ending the scheme. The report revealed that just two in five employees who received a Return to Work Plan (RtWP) after going through the Fit for Work process saw all of its recommendations enacted by their employer.

The report also found that a third of people were still out of work eight to 10 months after using the ill-fated scheme. Of those who had successfully returned to work after two to three months, two in five felt the service had made very little difference to helping them get back to work. Just 8,486 employees in England and Wales and 1,017 in Scotland were referred and discharged from the service between October 2015 and December 2016.

The findings from the Fit for Work evaluation will now help inform future occupational health reform.

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