Fit For Work? National Roll-Out Begins.

by richardhutton

Yesterday, the DWP began their phased, national roll-out of Fit For Work – that is, work capability assessments for people in employment, who need to take sick-leave. What it essentially amounts to is a service which puts people under pressure to return to work even when they are ill. As the DWP’s Guidance states:

“There are 2 elements:

  • an advice service providing health and work advice through a website and a telephone line
  • a referral service providing an occupational health assessment and a return to work plan for employees who have been off sick from work, or are likely to be off sick from work, for 4 weeks or more”

So, the fabled hardworking taxpayers – who put their health before their employers’ interests – will now be subject to the same mechanism which allows the government to bypass medical evidence, when depriving severely ill/disabled  people of incapacity benefits. Health professionals – i.e. Maximus assessors – will potentially be able to override GPs:

“The plan may indicate that you are ‘not fit for work’ or ‘may be fit for work’ subject to your employer being able to carry out the recommendations. Alternatively, your plan may say that you are fit for work.”

(Employer’s guidebook – page 7)

The rationale behind this is based on the same faulty distortion of opinion surveys and data, as underpinned the introduction of ESA:

“in a response to a survey a group of employees agreed that work is good for both mental and physical health and they would like to ask their current employer to take steps so that they could carry on working”

This, if anything, suggests that the onus should be put on employers to adapt their practices to suit the needs of people; not vice versa.