Fit notes substitute sick notes
The idea of a fit note instead of a sick note is designed to give a more positive approach to staff wishing to return to work after a period of sickness and allow them to do so on a more flexible basis.
As offices from London to Milton Keynes and Bristol to Reading have been adopting the new initiative it has been met with a mixed response.
A survey carried out by the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) with Simplyhealth evaluated the two key objectives bringing in the fit note was supposed to achieve.
Jill Miller, advisor to the CIPD, said: “GPs and employers need to work from the same page, promoting what is best for the individual employee’s health and well-being, but also what makes sense for the business.”
Firstly, it was hoped that the fit note would aid in ushering in conversations between staff and employers about their return to work.
In opening up the lines of communication, bosses were expected to be more aware of the ways in which they could help and support employees in order to return to the office.
This seems to have worked, with 52 per cent of managers agreeing that these conversations have started to take place after the introduction of the fit note system.
The fit note was introduced in April 2010 and highlights the fact that not working is actually bad for people’s health and can lead to greater isolation.
As a second objective, reducing the numbers of people taking sick leave, it has not been affective since only one in ten firms told the survey that fewer people were absent from the organisation since the fit note was brought in.
Ms Miller said: “Policy makers, however, should not be discouraged as it may well take five years or so before the fit note is consistently used effectively and viewed more favourably by GPs, employers and employees, to support early and lasting returns to work.”