Fit Note - the story so far

Posted 13th June 2010

Since the introduction of the Fit Note I have been keeping an eye on the news regarding its uptake

Personnel Today reported on 7th June 2010 that fake fit notes which claim to be ‘authentic looking replicas doctors sick note or medical certificates, written on official doctors’ notepaper, with real stamp’ are being circulated for as little as £10.

A website is openly selling fake versions of the new fit notes, with guaranteed 48 hour delivery, and you can choose to have notes stamped by doctors from medical centres in any UK City. 

The website claims the documents are ‘for novelty use only’.

While HR departments are getting used to the new fit note, it is thought that this fake notes could fool them. 

And the Employee Benefits website reported on Dame Carol Black addressing delegates at the Employee Benefits Summit, held in Monte Carlo, and admitted that some organisations had already experienced problems with fit notes, which were sometimes not completed properly by GPs. 

For example out of the 2,900 fit notes received by The Royal Mail, only 31 of them contained information on what an absent employee may be fit to do in the workplace.

She also reminded them that one of the key disincentives to employers of overhauling their health and wellbeing strategies was lack of awareness of the business and social benefits of early intervention, as well as the perception that (an employee) needs to be 100% fit to return to work.

And City AM reported (also on 7th June) that public sector workers took 43 per cent more sick days than their private sector colleagues last year, according to new research.

Workers in the public sector take an average of 8.3 days off sick per year, compare with 5.8 days per private sector employee, a survey by the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) and Pfizer found.

While the survey showed that sick days are at the lowest level since 1987, the 180m days of absence caused by illness cost the economy an estimated £16.8bn last year.

A CBI spokesman said: ‘The key difference between the two sectors is that the private sector is much better at managing long-term absence and bringing people back to work more effectively.  Companies are investing a lot of money in quality in quality rehabilitation.  Some of the ideas could be replicated in the public sector, and would be a way to save a lot of money without cutting front line services’ he said. 

The survey of human resources staff in 241 companies also showed that firms with more than 500 employees tend to lose around 1.7 more days per worker due to illness. 

Around 15 per cent of sick days are faked, costing the country around £2.5bn a year.

More than three quarters of employers thought the ‘fit note’, helps people get back to work. 

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