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Employers Sceptical of Government's Fit Notes Initiative
Date:3/28/2010

in a position to say if they are fit enough to work.** This is a view shared by GPs with nearly two thirds (64%) feeling ill-equipped to provide Fit Notes for the UK workforce. A further 15% were non-committal.***

Aviva’s early intervention prevention study suggests that there is a major communications issue to address before Fit Notes can begin to have a positive impact on absence rates. Success of the scheme hinges on GPs being prepared to comment on the functional impairment that their patient has, as well as employers being flexible to adapt the role or the workplace in the short-term. However, the study suggests there is little evidence that this is currently the case.

The research also indicates that employees who don’t have a full understanding of the process may feel Fit Notes could be used to get them back to work too early or even as grounds for dismissal. If left unchecked, this could foster a culture of suspicion or lead to an increase in workplace presenteeism.

Dr. Hugh Laing, Chief Medical Officer for Aviva UK Health and a practising GP comments:

“Any move on behalf of the Government to get people back into the workplace is commendable. However, we are concerned by the apparent lack of awareness of Fit Notes among employers and their workforce. The move from sick notes represents a big change for businesses and will take time to embed. What’s more, we will only reap the long term benefits of this move if the right support and training is in place. Whilst Fit Notes will encourage employers to act more responsibly towards employee rehabilitation and perhaps more importantly help prevent ill-health in the first place, the initiative doesn’t give them the tools or knowledge to do so.

”Employers are often well placed to spot the warning signs in an employee before they go off sick. They therefore have a vital role to play in the success of Fit Notes, so it’s importa
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