At present if a worker is off work sick for longer than seven days they are required to produce a fit note from their doctor certifying that they are not fit for work.
However, recently there were calls at the British Medical Association (BMA) annual conference for there to be a change in the law to allow workers to self-certify sickness for up to two weeks without the need to visit their GP for a fit note. It is thought that this would ease the burden on GPs who have come under increasing pressure with staff shortages and extensive waiting times.
It was also proposed that other health professionals including midwives, physiotherapists and senior nurses could sign a fit note in order to help ease the burden on GPs.
Critics of the proposed change are concerned that workers would abuse the system and that it could lead to more employees taking time off work and falsely claiming to be ill.
However, the BMA have said that ‘the vast majority of people’ could be trusted to decide whether they were not well enough to go to work.
The Department for Work and Pensions has stated that they do not intend to change the current system at the moment. However, it is a useful reminder that employers need to keep abreast of the frequent changes in the law in this area, and to regularly review and update their absence management processes and policies so that they can be used to effectively manage employee absence. For more information please contact Gary Smith via email or call 01279 755777.