04 / 11 / 2010
What we did and why
How we did it
Results and next steps
Tips for other organisations
The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) is the Government department responsible for welfare and pension policy. It is the biggest public service delivery department in the UK and serves over 20 million customers.
A DWP client adviser based in a contact centre spent prolonged periods of time sitting down and dealing with customer enquiries. Following increasing episodes of back pain it was diagnosed through an MRI scan that he had a damaged disc. His GP gave him a month-long ‘unfit to work’ fit note.
After three weeks of absence from work it was agreed to put together a fit for work plan, so that the employee could return to their role comfortably.
How we did it
The employee and his manager agreed to:
• arrange physiotherapy treatment to start immediately
• jointly create a fit for work plan that would draw on recommendations in the organisation's occupational health report and on the fit note provided by the employee’s GP
• weekly contact.
The fit for work plan involved the followings goals:
• recovering fully from the injury
• ensuring all physical preparations and arrangements were in place prior to the return to work date
• reducing discomfort and returning to normal duties and performance levels.
The plan also included additional actions such as incorporating techniques that could be used outside of work to manage the musculoskeletal condition.
To achieve the goals, the manager and employee agreed to:
• contact DWP’s internal physiotherapy advice line and attend physiotherapy sessions as directed by a GP
• refer to OH for advice on managing MSDs at work and gradually increase hours following receipt of a fit note
• the employee bringing self help/pain relief measures into work, for example a pillow for his chair, a heat pad, muscle stimulant and a TENS machine as required
• authorise the cost of taxis to and from work
• arrange a temporary disabled parking space to ease the return to work while mobility was a problem
• arrange for a workstation assessment to take place on the employee’s return to work to ensure the workstation and standard chair are adjusted for maximum comfort and functional ability
• identify a first aid room and arrange for this to be available in case the employee needed to lay down for a brief period
• increase hours of attendance on a week-to-week basis, as directed by an OH practitioner
• encourage the employee to report any problems to his manager
• facilitate time off to attend physiotherapy and medical appointments
• discuss and review progress after each visit
• allow short but frequent posture breaks away from the employee’s workstation as required.
Responsibility for each action point was given to either the manager or the employee and key dates were agreed upon for implementing the goals. These goals were then reviewed on specific dates and an ongoing summary of progress was created.
The physiotherapy sessions proved to be extremely beneficial and after only three weeks the GP issued a fit note to the employee, which indicated recovery was sufficient to provide a return to work date.
• Early intervention is key
• Work closely with the employee and jointly agree upon a fit for work plan to facilitate a speedy return to work that ensures the employee’s health and well-being.
• Establish and keep regular contact to review the fit for work plan goals
Programme lead - health work and well-being
0113 306 3012