New ‘fit note’ system at work

Doctors should consider what work staff are fit for instead of simply signing them off sick, ministers will say...

Guidance is being issued to GPs on how to use the new ‘fit note’ system that will come into force in April.

The notes, which will replace sick notes, will outline if the patient should not work at all, or under what circumstances they can do some work, such as reduced hours, altered duties or phasing their return to normal hours.
 
Ministers are concerned that some doctors still give out sick notes too easily for people who do not need to be off work if their hours or conditions could be altered. Evidence shows that people who are signed off sick long-term are less likely to ever return to work.

The British Medical Association is broadly in support of the new system but has concerns that GPs will not have the necessary knowledge of the workplace to make recommendations and that employers need to be made aware of the changes.

It is thought the new fit notes will help get more people back to work, boost productivity for employers and save the British economy around £250m over the next ten years.

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