Following Dame Carol Black’s review of the health of Britain’s working age population in 2008, the GP fit note, or Statement of Fitness for Work as it is formally known, was introduced in April 2010.
Diana Bruce, Senior Policy Liaison Officer at the CIPP, said:
“The CIPP is disappointed with these results; the fit note was intended to be used as a tool to encourage conversations between employers and employees about how an earlier return to work after sickness could be facilitated. In light of Dame Carol Black’s review the fit note was intended to be used to show that employees do not need to be 100% fit for both parties to benefit from a phased or adjusted return to work.”
Dame Carol Black’s review talked about there being evidence that some employers are reluctant to contact absent staff for fear of being accused of harassment.
“Managing sickness absence is a challenging and often sensitive issue for employers so if the communication channels are open from the outset with clear company policies, the easier the process should be for both employers and employees. The answer to this issue could well lie with the need for better sickness polices to be put in place at work.”
The Chartered Institute of Personnel Development (CIPD) carried out research in 2011 surrounding the new GP fit note; it suggests the replacement of the sick note has been met with resistance by some employers. The ‘Absence Management 2011; Statement of Fitness for Work’ found nearly three out of five employers (58%) did not think it would help to reduce employee absence levels.