In 2012 we wrote about a survey that revealed only 30% of employers think the introduction of the fit note has helped improve absence management. With 11% of employers reporting that they think the previous system was better, the Government is now facing calls to improve the fit note system.
A review by the Department for Work and Pensions has found that doctors are unwilling to provide information and use the ‘may be fit for some work’. Doctors are not suggesting adjustments in duties or working hours, enabling the employee to work.
So two years on, how are things looking? The EEF’s 2014 Sickness Absence Survey has shown that despite the average duration of absence leave has reduced, the number of cases of long term illness has increased by nearly 20%. With less than 25% of employers reporting that Fit to Work Notes have resulted in an earlier return to work, it seems they are still not being used to their full potential and the key message now is to invest in better absence management strategies.