In a move that has been kept pretty quiet, it was announced that from today if an employee has been off work for more than 7 days, that instead of being able to get a sick note from the doctor they will be issued a “fit note”. Previously if a person has received a sick note it has been used by the employer to issue Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) to the employee, until they are well enough to return to work, but this is all changed.
The “fit notes” puts the doctor in an odd situation as they will still be able to declare the person unfit to be able to return to work, but there now has to be a discussion with the employee / patient to look at options as to where they feel that they would be able to return to work. This then puts the onus on the employer to make provisions for the recovering employee to return to work earlier, maybe doing light duties or a different task.
What I don’t quite get is the doctor’s role in this. As an expert was saying on the news this morning, doctors aren’t occupational health specialists and to be perfectly frank they have very little experience of what goes on in businesses or working environments to be able to make an informed decision as to what roles would be able to be adapted for the individual. With the new regulations there is nothing that enforces the suggestions made by the doctor and the employer could just turn round and say that the changes in working hours or role are not doable, and the employee has no right of appeal apparently.
The idea behind it is that it would help employees to get back to work quicker which should help the physical and mental readaption to working, while the employee would gain more money as they could be getting partial pay, while getting topped up with SSP.
It is estimated that the sick days that people take in the UK is costing the economy £100 billion a year which is a huge amount and there is a huge number of people who do “chuck sickies” as they can’t be bothered to go to work. We are very fortunate that we have a really low sick rate at Bronco. I can’t remember when I had the last call to say someone was off sick. There are some days that guys are sat at their desk when they really should be at home, which is a great testament to their commitment and loyalty … unless they just like to see their germs spreading around the office in a contest of how many people they can infect!