DWP publication of the Evaluation of Fit for Work Service Pilots

Press Releases

1 Mar 2012

Today (1 March 2012) sees the publication of the Evaluation of the Fit for Work Service pilots: first year report, by the DWP (which was undertaken by a consortia including the Institute for Employment Studies).

Jim Hillage, Director of Research at the Institute for Employment Studies, comments on this:

‘Helping people get back to work from sickness absence as quickly as possible is a good thing for everyone concerned. If someone is absent for six months or longer due to ill-health, they have an 80 per cent chance of being off work for five years. Staying in work is generally good for people's health and a rapid return can improve workplace productivity and reduce the flow onto incapacity benefits.

‘Often people who are off sick for some time are suffering from more than just a straightforward medical condition. The Fit for Work Service can support GPs and help their patients access clinical services and also help them cope with other problems at home or in the workplace which prevent them then going back to work

‘The eleven Fit for Work Service (FFWS) pilot projects worked with people suffering with a range of conditions, from mild anxiety or depression to musculoskeletal problems like back pain and RSI. Some offered accelerated access to physio or psychotherapy. All offered a case management service to help clients work with their employer to make changes to their workplace or role, such as altering their working pattern, type of work or team to accommodate their health condition. They also helped with domestic issues preventing people returning to work, such as financial or housing problems.

‘This kind of support is particularly useful for smaller businesses, without the access to Occupational Health (OH) that larger organisations have. The interim evaluation shows that this kind of intervention has the potential to fill the gap between OH and the health service. The final evaluation report will assess the impact of the service on overall sickness absence and whether the benefits outweigh the cost.’

Ends

Jim is available for interview or further comment by contacting Lorna Howes on 01273 763414 or lorna.howes@employment-studies.co.uk

About Jim:

Jim Hillage, MBE, BA (Cantab.), MSc (LSE), is Director of Research at the Institute for Employment Studies. Jim leads the Institute's work on education and training which includes work-based training and skill development, vocational, further and higher education, although his research interests also include issues relating to work, health and well-being. He is able to draw on 30 years' experience of researching into labour markets and employment policy and evaluating the direct and indirect impact of a range of policy interventions on employers, individuals and intermediaries.. In 2007 Birthday Honours he was awarded the MBE for services to skills and training.

About the Institute for Employment Studies:

The Institute for Employment Studies is the UK’s leading independent, not-for-profit centre for research and evidence-based consultancy on employment, the labour market, and HR policy and practice.