Many employers are unconvinced of the effectiveness of fit notes and other government reforms in helping to reduce sickness absence, says Tynan Barton
On 6 April 2010, the Department for Work and Pensions introduced the fit note to replace doctors’ sick notes, switching the focus from what a person cannot do to what they can do. The aim is to help staff get the best possible advice about staying in work, and what their employer can do to help them return to work quickly. Reflecting this, 41% of respondents believe the fit note, and other government initiatives such as fit-for-work services, will help employees on long-term sick leave return to work.
On 16 February 2011, the Welfare Reform Bill 2011 was introduced to parliament. One of its main aims was to create incentives to get more people back to work. The government also announced a review into the current sickness absence system, plus an extra £12 million funding for relevant programmes.
Although 44% of employers believe these will not impact on their healthcare and group risk strategies, 36% see the need to review their absence strategies in the next 12 months. With the removal of the default retirement age from October 2011, employers are reluctant to change their group risk policies; 24% said they will await advice from their consultant and 20% plan to leave cover as it is.
Read more Group Risk Research 2011