Fit for Work: Final report of a process evaluation

Gloster R, Marvell R, Huxley C |   | Department for Work and Pensions | Jun 2018

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This report presents the findings from IES' process evaluation of the Fit for Work service. The evaluation of the occupational health assessment and advice service was conducted on behalf of the Department for Work and Pensions between September 2015 and May 2017, before the decision was taken to close the Fit for Work assessment service in early 2018 due to low numbers of referrals.

The Fit for Work service aimed to help employees on, or at risk of entering, long-term sickness absence (defined as four weeks or more), through a referral made by their GP or their employer. Participation to the service was entirely voluntary and employees who gave their consent took part in a biopsychosocial assessment, primarily conducted over the phone. Following the assessment, a Return to Work Plan would be produced, making recommendations for self-care, workplace adjustments and/or signposting to further specialist support or therapy services to assist the employee's return to work.

This report outlines various areas of the evaluation, from employee and employer attitudes to work and sickness absence, awareness or understanding of referrals and the service as a whole and analysis of the assessment and Return to Work Plans, to drop-out from the service and outcomes for employees. The analysis also compares the experiences of employees with mental health conditions to those with musculoskeletal disorders, and offers insights into how organisations of different sizes made use of the service.