Eligibility for Fit for Work referrals

30 September 2016

30 September 2016

Employed people in England and Wales who have been off work due to illness for four weeks or more can be referred by their employer or GP for a free occupational health evaluation.

The evaluation identifies the obstacles delaying an employee’s return to work and provides recommendations to help the employee return to work quickly and safely. In order to ensure that the free Fit for Work referrals are available for those who need them, however, they are subject to a set of eligibility criteria.

Even if people aren't eligible for referral, the free online resources on the Fit for Work website (blogs, guides on the advice hub, ability to ask a question by email/web chat) and the free telephone advice line (0800 032 6235 - English, 0800 032 6233 - Cymraeg) can be accessed by anyone who needs help with work-related health matters.

Eligibility for a Fit for Work assessment depends on five factors.

1. Location

2. Work status

  • Those who are in paid employment are eligible, those who are self-employed or unemployed are not.

3. Length of sickness absence 

  • GPs can refer patients who have been off sick or who in their view are likely to be off sick from work for four weeks or more.
  • Employers can refer employees who have reached four weeks of sickness absence and have not yet been referred by their GP.
  • Those who have been off work for reasons other than illness, or who have not been absent for the stipulated period of time, are not eligible for the service. Employees cannot self-refer but can ask their GP or employer to refer them.

4. Past referral

  • People who have been supported through a Fit for Work assessment in the last 12 months will not be eligible for a repeat referral.

5. Consent

  • GPs and employers must gain consent from patients/employees before they make a referral. Consent will also be sought from employees before their Return to Work Plan is shared with their GP and/or employer.

Employers: Refer eligible employees by visiting fitforwork.org/employer and clicking on ‘refer an employee’.

Employees: If you meet the eligibility criteria, ask your employer or GP to refer you to Fit for Work. To find out more about Fit for Work referrals, see this post.