The new Fit for Work Service (previously called the Health & Work Assessment Service) will initially cover three health board areas: Lanarkshire, Tayside and Lothian. The original “go live” date for the service in Scotland was 15 December 2014, but this slipped to 26 January 2015. It is expected that further health board areas will come on stream quickly after that. 

There is comprehensive guidance on the service at A telephone advice line is already operating and can give general guidance, on 088 019 2211.

The initial referral to the service will be by the employee’s GP about four weeks into the absence, but if they don’t make a referral the employer can do so themselves. Any referral to the FFW service will require the employee’s explicit consent. If the assessment is a telephone assessment (the usual procedure), the employee will be contacted within two working days. The assessment will identify, if possible, the barriers preventing return to work and agree a plan to address these barriers. Employers may be eligible for a tax free exemption of £500 if adjustments to the workplace or duties are required by the plan. It is not mandatory to make the adjustments that are suggested; as always what is reasonable in one workplace may not be reasonable in another.

The Access to Work scheme ( is still in operation and may also be worth investigating with an employee who needs further adjustments.