Fit note makes no difference to sickness absence
17th May 2012
A report has found that 60% of employers believe the introduction of the Statement of Fitness for Work (fit note) in 2010 has had no impact on levels of sickness absence.
The research conducted by manufacturers’ organisation EEF and health insurer Westfield Health also found that a small proportion of employers found the fit note less helpful than its predecessor the sick note.
A fit note indicates whether a doctor believes a person is ‘not fit for work’ or ‘may be fit for work’.
Not fit for work – A doctor will choose this option when they believe a person’s health condition will prevent them from working for a given period.
May be fit for work – A doctor will select this option when they believe a person may be able to return to work while they recover from their injury or illness with help from their employer. This is likely to include comments from the doctor to the employer indicating how the person is affected by the condition and, if appropriate, if there is anything they can do to support them in their return to work. This may include:
- A phased return to work
- Altered hours
- Amended duties
- Changes to the person’s workplace
In light of the findings of the report, EEF is urging the Government to implement the recommendations of the Frost/Black review into sickness absence, including further training for GPs. According to the review, only 3,500 of the 40,000 GPs working in the UK have received some form of training regarding the use of fit notes.
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