Are ‘Fit Notes’ Sick?

Putting a Price on Healthcare

Sadly a recent report from the EEF indicated only 30 per cent of Manufacturers believe the ‘Fit Note’ has actually helped to reduce absence. Almost 60% said it made no difference.

It seems GPs are reluctant to contact employers with details of how they can make adjustments for employees in order to get them back to work  and that there’s a need for further training for GPs (apparently only 3,500 GPs have received ‘Fit Note’ training so far out of a possible 41,000).

With GPs looking ready to strike about pension reform and many GPs claiming excessive workloads it begs the question as to whether Fit Notes are the way forward and whether GPs are the right people to be handling them.

The average rate of 5.1 days of absence per employee per year in the manufacturing sector is an indicator that overall absence rates have been reducing slightly; interestingly long-term absence saw an increase last year with higher rates of stress, anxiety and depression being reported. At the same time the practice of ‘presenteeism’ has seen a sharp increase. Whilst it is crucial to capture absenteeism in real time, I would urge employers to use the data in a sensible fashion and address only those abusing the system to avoid ‘presenteeism’ and sick colleagues passing on bugs.

Managing people back into work is quite a complex task and while electronic Fit Notes could be one way of solving the problem (according to findings in the Frost/Black report) an automated time and attendance solution will help ease the burden for employers wanting to balance employee health and the needs of the organisation.

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