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CBI Survey on Impact of Fit Notes on Sickness Absence

According to the CBI’s Absence and Workplace Health Survey fit notes have failed to deliver a reduction in sickness absence. This is the conclusion drawn from the new absence figures included in the survey.

The survey showed that the UK economy lost 190 million working days to absence last year, with each employee taking an average of 6.5 days off sick. This is an increase on 2009's figures, which showed employee averages of 6.4 sick days, despite the introduction of fit notes in 2010.

Fit notes were introduced in April 2010 and allow GPs to advise the employer whether the employee could return to work sooner if certain changes were made. Some examples of the changes which could be made would be a temporary reduction in hours or duties (such as lifting, driving etc). See the link below regarding fit notes for more information.

According to the survey employers have been disappointed by their experience of fit notes so far. With 66% of employers saying that fit notes had not yet helped their rehabilitation policy. More than 70% ‘were not confident that GPs were using the fit note differently from the old sick note’.

Katja Hall, CBI Chief Policy Director, said:

‘The substantial costs of absence to the economy put a premium on managing longer-term absence well. The fit note is a great initiative, which could play an important role in helping people back to work and stopping them slide into long-term absence. But employers are far from convinced that the scheme is working properly and don't think doctors are getting the necessary training.’

The government is still planning to introduce electronic fit notes and although these were originally expected in autumn 2010 this has been delayed and is now expected in autumn 2011. Katja Hall said:

‘The launch of the electronic fit note should be an ideal opportunity for the Department for Work and Pensions to extend the reach of its training programme and address GPs' engagement. There can be no room for complacency in addressing the so-called sick note culture.’

If you would like any advice on sick pay and managing sickness absence please do get in touch.

Internet links: Press release Survey Fit Notes

Posted - 08/06/2011

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