Work Capability Assessment guide

Get a free consultation
Health Assured Logo

Health Assured team

19 February 2019

To decide if an employee is too unwell to work, the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) requires them to complete a work capability assessment.

It involves the completion of a face-to-face medical evaluation as well as a questionnaire.

Its aim is to determine the extent to which an employee’s illness or disability affects their ability to work. It's conducted by a pre-approved healthcare professional acting on behalf of the DWP.

These assessments are central to the Employment and Support Allowance (ESA). It provides individuals with financial support if they’re deemed unfit for work and personalised help so they can return to work.


What is Work capability assessment?

It's the test used to decide a claimant's ESA eligibility. The assessment comes in two parts:

  • The limited capability for work assessment which finds out if the claimant can claim ESA.
  • The limited capability for work-related activity assessment which divides applicants into two groups. Support group and work-related activity group.

In most cases, a healthcare professional will conduct both assessments at the same time. Eligible employees may receive a limited capability for work-related activity or limited capability for work payment due every month.


How do you qualify for ESA?

A fit for work assessment entitles employees to ESA if their illness or disability affects their ability to work and they’re:

  • Under state pension age.
  • Not receiving Statutory Sick Pay (SSP).
  • Not receiving Statutory Maternity Pay (SMP).
  • Not gone back to work.
  • Not getting jobseeker’s allowance.

People may apply for ESA if they fall into any of the following categories:

  • Self-employed.
  • A student.


Completing the capability for work questionnaire

Applicants must complete and return a capability for work questionnaire (ESA50). It begins by asking for the name, address, doctor’s details, description of illness or disability and treatment history of the claimant.

The questionnaire is then divided into two sections. The first involves questions about their ability to carry out certain physical activities (sitting, standing etc.).

The second is about the intellectual functions needed to carry out day to day activities. The questions relate to several mental health conditions linked to depression, learning difficulties etc.


Work capability assessment points

Employees need to score at least 15 points in total to get an ESA allowance. The DWP add up the points from activities in the physical and mental disability categories to form the total score.

Examples of activities involved in the physical category of the assessment include:

  • Unaided mobilising.
  • Standing and sitting.
  • Picking up.
  • Understanding of others.
  • Making yourself understood
  • Manual dexterity.

Examples of activities involved in a work capability assessment for mental health include:

  • Learning tasks.
  • Learning tasks.
  • Awareness of everyday hazards.
  • Identifying employee’s ability for planning.
  • Problem-solving and prioritising tasks.
  • Coping with change.
  • Managing social engagement.

To qualify for ESA support group, the DWP need to decide that the claimant isn’t able to work and aren’t expected to do anything to improve their chances of finding work. However, it’s worth noting, if they’d like to take part in work-related activities, they’ll have to contact the DWP first to make suitable arrangements.


Independent medical assessments

You can bring in a specialist health adviser if you have concerns about the effects of work on your employees’ health.

A medically-qualified professional performs the assessment with the aim to address issues around the workplace. You're then provided with a report of the findings which will also include recommendations for changes and reasonable adjustments.

These assessments are optional. But they’re beneficial for employees working in high-risk roles, as well as for employers to meet the legal requirements of a work environment.

Expert Advice

If you’d like to find out more information on any of the topics mentioned in this article, please contact Health Assured on 0844 892 2493

Make your enquiry

Please complete the form below and we'll be in touch to answer your enquiry

Book a place on this workshop

Get a free consultation

Please complete the form and we'll be in touch to schedule your free consultation

An error occurred

We appologise but an error has occurred submitting your form. Please try again.