As announced this week, a new ‘fit note’ system which could see people returning to work sooner has been welcomed by employers. The move is set to place the onus on employers to get their staff back into work according to the British Medical Association (BMA).
The traditional sick note required GP’s to decide whether or not the patient was fit for work and how much time they should take off. GP’s will now be required to details of which tasks the patient is capable of carrying out. Employers will be required to accommodate those employees who are still able to perform parts of their jobs.
Dr Laurence Buckman, chairman of the BMA’s GPs committee, welcomed the regulations, He said: “Being in work is good for people’s health and wellbeing and it’s for that reason the BMA is pleased that the sick note system has finally been overhauled.
“It should reduce the number of forms used and will provide a better way for a GP to give advice about a patient to their employer. Most importantly, from today the responsibility will be on employers to act: if a GP decides their patient is capable of some form of work, for example if they’ve got back pain and they should temporarily avoid elements of their normal job, then it will be down to the employer to be flexible enough to accommodate them.”
The bill is designed to reduce the 172 million working days lost to sickness absence per year and aims to benefit the economy by an estimated £240 million over the next decade.