Possible “Fit Note” Changes Announced 2016
A recent announcement has stated that the existing system of sick pay and GP “fit notes” is going to be reviewed by the UK government.
As reported by The Guardian, the review is the result of the growing cost of long-term sickness to the NHS, as highlighted by the Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt. Jeremy has reasoned that a focus on getting people back to work could have pretty big health benefits.
As well as looking at how GP “fit notes” will be tackled going forward, the review is also expected to contain proposed changes to the Work Capability Assessments (WCA), which is the current process disabled people must follow if they wish to obtain financial support from the government.
How Will These Changes Impact Business?
It is hard to say how these changes will impact organisations, because it is still unclear as to what changes will actually be made. All we know is that the intention behind the changes is described as a way to “support workers back into their jobs faster and for longer”, and that the changes will probably be quite big – “when things need improving, like the work capability assessment and fit notes, we mustn’t shy away from big decisions”.
There are actually a number of studies that all suggest returning to work can have positive health benefits. Hopefully though, this won’t translate into changes that force people into work who are genuinely unfit to do so.
As employers, there’s not much more we can do right now than watch and wait – and remember, up until this point, no changes have actually been made, meaning the existing “fit note” process is still the process employers, employees and GPs should be following.
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