Long-term sickness and absence from work — The Report

  22nd November 2011      
 Company News

Yesterday saw the conclusion to research been carried out about how the long-term sick and general absence from work is effecting the UK and the changes it is likely to implement.

The report has come to a decision whereby rather than GP’s giving the final say on sickness and absence from work , concluding that GP’s do not have any basis of  cost to employer and State when forming their decision, a point that needs serious consideration to regulation factors  on sign-off from work.
Cutting out GP’s from the sickness and absence process is the main recommendation of this report. According to the conclusions ‘GP’s have insufficient time to analyse a patients ability to work’.

Following on from these findings a new Government backed panel; the Independent Assessment Service will provide results through a ‘fit note’. The fit note will come into force after roughly four weeks of sickness providing an intense assessment of an individual’s physical and/or mental condition.

The report said: “Employers pay £9bn a year in sick pay and associated costs, plus the indirect costs of managing business while people are off sick. Currently, the majority of people seeking a medical certificate (fit note) are signed off as completely unfit.

On the flip side of this argument where mental health is the reason for absence the report has shown that earlier invention of mental problems can be very beneficial to employees and employers alike. The quicker a full assessment on a rehabilitation scheme takes place, the lesser the chance of an individual taking a long and distressing absence.

Chair of the UK Rehabilitation Council, Catherine McLoughlin, suggests that many employers already do just that, saying: “Our best employers are world-class when it comes to rehabilitation, but there aren’t enough of them”.

“There are some wonderful examples of UK companies that have used rehabilitation to turn around their absence record and improve profitability, but we need more of them. We urge the government to take the lead.”

The authors of the report, Dame Carol Black and David Frost explain.
“Unless this is addressed, employers cannot make adjustments to help people whose illness is compatible with a return to work.” and in conclusion stated “We estimate that the State could save up to £300 million a year by introducing this service. The increase in economic output could be up to £800 million a year.”

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