MEL Health and Safety Consultants

Fit for Work Service Programme

Pilot Scheme Provides those on Sick Leave with a Path Back to Work

The Department of Health and the Department for Work and Pensions have jointly called for organisations to come forward to participate in the pilot process of its Fit for Work Service Programme, designed to help people on sick leave return to work.

The pilots, expected to begin later this year, will be backed by £13 million in funding. They will test out how sickness absentees can be supported to get back to work more quickly than would otherwise be the case.

They will test a range of different ways of providing assistance, to identify what works best. Each pilot will test personalised, back-to-work support for people presently off sick.

A Government source said the range of services within a pilot would go beyond just healthcare and join up local services, including:

  • skills advice  
  • employment advice  
  • health and well-being services, with a particular focus on vocational rehabilitation   
  • wider social support such as debt or housing advice   
  • conciliation to overcome escalated disputes between employees and employers.

A series of workshops for parties interested in applying to become part of the Fit for Work programme of piloting will be held on the following dates:

  • 16 March 2009   
  • 17 March 2009   
  • 18 March 2009

Commenting on the plans, the Care Services Minister, Phil Hope, said, "Good health for the workforce is good for business; every employer knows that. In the current economic climate, it's even more important that we cut the £100 billion cost of worklessness caused by ill health”.