76% of employers unaware of Fit for Work service

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EXCLUSIVE: More than three-quarters (76%) of employers are unaware of the Department for Work and Pensions’ (DWP) Fit for Work service, according to research by YouGov and medical insurance provider Cigna.

The DWP Fit For Work awareness research, which surveyed 689 employer respondents who are senior decision makers in UK businesses, including 280 with HR responsibilities, found that more than a third (34%) of respondents with some HR responsibility in their role were familiar with the service.

The study also found that 32% of respondents overall are likely to make use of the service, rising to 49% among those that were already aware of it.

However, 14% of respondents are aware that the Fit for Work service allows them to fund medical treatments for absent employees up to the value of £500 on a tax-free basis.

The research also found that 20% of respondents with HR responsibilities were aware of this tax incentive, and more than 40% of respondents said their organisation would be more likely to fund medical treatments for absent employees as a result of this tax relief.

Phil Austin, managing director at Cigna UK, said: The DWP initiatives to help employers with the rising costs of sickness absence are definitely a positive step.

“However, the research points to a need for more widespread communication on the Fit for Work scheme. At the same time, employers and GPs need better understanding of each other’s roles in managing sickness absence.”