29.05.09

'Fit Note' Takes Step Closer

A new medical ‘fit note’ to replace the current ‘sick note’ and help more people stay in work rather than drift into long term sickness was unveiled this week - along with a 12-week consultation on its design.

The new ‘fit note’ will enable people to get the best possible advice about staying in work, and if they can’t work what their employer can do to help them return to work sooner. For example, if the employee has a problem with mobility, suggesting a job where they can work sitting down rather than standing up.

Lord McKenzie, Work and Pensions Minister, said: “Employers tell us that managing sickness absence can be a challenge. This is compounded by a ‘sick note’ system that makes sickness absence a black and white issue – either you are unfit for work or you are not. We recognise how important it is to help people who are sick to stay in work or get back to work quickly - the new fit note will help do just that.”

About 172 million working days were lost to sickness absence in the UK in 2007 with absences lasting over four weeks making up around 40% of days lost according to the CBI.

Under the new system ‘fit notes’ will be computer-generated in GPs surgeries - replacing the current hand written version - and will roll-out across Great Britain in the Spring of 2010.

The introduction of the fit note forms part of the Government’s response to Dame Carol Black’s report into the health of Britain’s working age population, which was published in March 2008.

The Government’s consultation document can be found at:

http://www.dwp.gov.uk/consultations/2009/Reforming-the-Medical-Statement-consultation-28May2009.pdf

 

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