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Jan 4 2012
Employee absence soars following introduction of fit note – FirstCare

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GPs ‘stuck in old habits’, absence management specialist claims
Employee time off work may have doubled since the introduction of the fit note, the replacement system for the traditional sick note introduced in 2010, according to the UK’s largest absence management specialist.
A study carried out by FirstCare suggests that workers who went to their GP for a fit note were absent from work for 48 days on average, compared to 20 days for those who did not apply for one.
FirstCare said it has carried out an analysis of 22,086 employee records which found that the majority of GPs continue to sign off employees sick for lengthy periods of time. The fit note had been introduced in order to enable doctors to say what an employee is well enough to perform, as opposed to simply saying whether they can be at work or not at all.
James Arquette, a director at FirstCare, said the system “causes employees to be off work for longer without reducing the likelihood of repeated absence”.
FirstCare’s analysis chimes with findings from a survey carried out last year by the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development and Simplyhealth which suggested that just 11% of business said the fit note had cut absence. The CIPD/Simplyhealth survey of 592 organisations also found that just under a third (31%) agreed that the fit note helps line managers to manage absence more effectively.

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