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New Fit Note unveiled - Government gets rid of Sick Note culture

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Issued 28/05/2009

A new medical 'fit note' to replace the current 'sick note' and help more people stay in work rather than drift into long term sickness is unveiled today along with a twelve week consultation on its design.

The new 'fit note' will enable people to get the best possible advice about staying in work, and if they can't work what their employer can do to help them return to work sooner. For example, if the employee has a problem with mobility, suggesting a job where they can work sitting down rather than standing up.

Lord Bill McKenzie, Work and Pensions Minister, said:

"Employers tell us that managing sickness absence can be a challenge. This is compounded by a 'sick note' system that makes sickness absence a black and white issue - either you are unfit for work or you are not.

"We recognise how important it is to help people who are sick to stay in work or get back to work quickly - the new fit note will help do just that."

Health Minister Ben Bradshaw said:

"We know that sickness absence is economically and socially damaging and makes people more likely to drift into social exclusion and poverty. Getting people back into work quicker is good for their health as well as the country's finances.

"The fit note will give GPs a new opportunity to benefit their patients and I look forward to it being used in surgeries everywhere."

Developed with the support of healthcare professionals, employer representatives and trade unions, the new 'fit notes' will roll-out across Great Britain in the Spring of 2010.

Our goal is that under the new system 'fit notes' will be computer-generated in GPs surgeries, replacing the current hand written version.

The introduction of the 'fit note' forms part of the Government's response to Dame Carol Black's groundbreaking report into the health of Britain's working age population, which was published in March 2008.

Notes:

The full Government response to Dame Carol Black's report can be found here: http://www.workingforhealth.gov.uk/Government-Response

Key Statistics

* Cost to the British economy of working age ill-health in terms of working days lost and worklessness is over 100bn each year (as estimated in Black Review)

* Over 29 million people in employment in UK; an employment rate of 74.4 percent.

* About 172 million working days lost in 2007 due to sickness absence (CBI survey)

* Absences that last over four weeks make up around 40 percent of days lost to absence (CBI survey)

* About 2.6 per cent of working time lost to illness in 2007 (official data)

* 34 million days lost in 2007/08 to work-related illness (official data)

* 2.6 million people on incapacity benefits in May 2008 (latest data)

* Fallen from 2.77 million in 2004

* Around 600,000 per year makes claims to incapacity benefits and survey data suggests that half of these had been in work immediately prior to their claim


About the Author

Crown Copyright. Material taken from the Department for Work And Pensions. Reproduced under the terms and conditions of the Click-Use Licence.


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Article Published/Sorted/Amended on Scopulus 2009-05-28 15:19:19 in Employee Articles

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