90% of employers say fit note not effective

A poll has found that 90% of employers do not believe the GP fit note is effective.

The Chartered Institute of Payroll Professionals (CIPP) polled 101 people on its website during March.

This comes after the introduction of the new GP fit note - the Statement of Fitness for Work – was introduced in April 2010 following Dame Carol Black’s review of employees' health in 2008.

Senior policy liaison officer at the CIPP Diana Bruce 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.

‘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 policies to be put in place at work.’

Meanwhile Scottish GPs unanimously passed a motion at the Scottish LMCs conference in Glasgow on 22 March stating they are ‘disappointed by the behaviours of some in demanding fitness to return to work certificates for their employees despite completion of a 'fit note'.’

Last year around three-fifths of GPs said the fit note has improved the quality of their discussions with patients about return to work, in a survey by the Department for Work and Pensions.

The survey of 1,405 GPs showed that 61% said the fit note had improved the quality of their discussions with patients about return to work.

It also showed that almost all (99%) of GPs thought work was beneficial for health and helping patients to stay in or return to work was an important part of the GP’s role.

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