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← Overview Database of Innovative Social Policies in Europe

Fit for Work

Country of implementation
United Kingdom
General short description of the innovation
Fit for Work services offer support for people in the early stages of sickness absence, particularly for employees working in SMEs. Through case-managed and multidisciplinary services it seeks to provide personalised help to address both social concerns, such as financial and housing issues, and clinical needs, and as a consequence would keep people in work. Between April and June 2010, Fit for Work Service (FFWS) pilots were launched in 11 areas throughout Great Britain with the intention of testing different approaches to providing the service, and getting people back to work as quickly as possible. Pilots were formed by partnerships of health, employment and local community organisations, and offered bio-psychosocial assessments of need and case-managed support to aid a quick return to work. From April 2011, seven of the pilots were funded for up to a further two years. / / In addition to a return-to-work plan and case management additional support was available (Hillage 2012). This included: / 1) Guidance and Gateway where case managers assessed their clients and provided them with a range of generally non-clinical support. / 2) Guidance Plus and Gateway Plus where case managers offered a wider range of support to their clients, including light-touch clinical support, or they were offered a fast-track referral to some clinical services, such as physiotherapy. / 3) Guidance Plus and Fast Access where clients generally received an enhanced support from their case manager and fast-track referrals to either physical or psychological support plus a range of other services.
Target group
Older Workers
Policy Field
  • social
Type of Policy
  • public
Duration of the policy
2010-2013
Scope of innovation
  • Scope: temporary
  • Spatial coverage: Great Britain
General description of (intended) objectives and strategies
The pilot seeks to provide personalised, case-managed support for workers in the early stages of sickness absence or ill-health in order to expedite return to work, support job retention, and thereby reduce the flow onto welfare benefits.
Type of innovation
  • new policy, practice or measure
New outputs
  • services
Clarification of intended mechanisms, outputs and outcomes (optional)
Although all the pilots were differently operating the main stages participants went through were: a referral stage where individuals could access FFWS either by being referred or by contacting the pilot themselves having or having been told about it by their general practitioner employer; a screening stage to determine eligibility and suitability for the service and a brief discussion of the individuals circumstances and needs; an assessment and case management stage where participants were helped to draw up a ?back-to-work plan? and provided them with support to fulfil the goals set out, a support sage in which case managers offered support with goal setting and monitoring progress. Where participants required additional support, case managers acted as a gateway; the discharge stage to see whether they had been able to overcome or manage their health issues and to see if they needed any further support.
Intended target group
People in early stage of sickness
Working age population
  • main source of income: paid work
Actors involved in policy-making/implementation and/or evaluation
  • central state
  • citizen communities
  • private not-for-profit organisations (e.g. Third Sector organisation or NGO)
  • regional government
Clarification of the role of various actors
In most of the cases the pilots were a public, private and voluntary sector partnership with various local and national government partners involved. Depending on the context of implementation, the partners delivered different parts of the service and the management burden of the pilots.
Intended output
  • job guidance, coaching and counselling (rather: guidance and advice to tackle sickness of employed people at an early stage )
  • services
Did the innovation have any outcome related to job quantity?
maintain workforce
Clarification of outcomes in terms of impacting resilience and labour market inclusion
As DWP-commissioned research found (Hillage 2012), the services were well-liked by clients and stakeholders and appeared to be a meeting genuine need for this type of service. However, both the volume and profile of clients were not in line with expectations. Take-up was significantly lower than expected by local partners and the 6,700 clients helped by services in the first year were much more likely to be people struggling at work with a health condition rather than the primary target group of people on a period of sickness absence from work. / / With regard to the original objective, there is some qualitative evidence that most clients would not have received the interventions they had without the support of the FFWS and that the service helped people get back to work more quickly or more easily than they would otherwise have done. / / References: / - Hillage, J. et al. (2012), Evaluation of the Fit for Work Service pilots: first year report, DWP research report No. 792, London. / - Mumtaz, L. et al. (2012), Evaluation of the Statement of Fitness for Work: qualitative research with employers and employees, DWP research report no. 797, London. /
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