The End of Sick Notes
Evidence has revealed that the longer employees are absent from work, the harder it is for them to return. Being out of work leads to a decline in physical and mental health. Following a recent government review, it looks like the “sick note” has had its day and in April 2010 we are going to see the new “fit note” system.Instead of simply signing an employee off work, under the new system the doctor will be required to focus on what the employee can do, rather than what they can’t, thereby aiding a return to work.
Under the new “fit note” system, doctors will need to classify an employee as:
a) fit for work;
b) not fit for work; or
c) may be fit for some work.
Under the final category doctors need to describe the effects of the employee’s medical condition (e.g. cannot stand for long periods) and can go on to indicate what arrangements would help the employee return to work (e.g. altered hours or amended duties).
As an employer, you will not be bound to make the adjustments suggested by the doctor and any changes you do decide to make will need to be agreed with the employee concerned.
If reduced hours are agreed with an employee, you will also have to decide whether pay and benefits should be temporarily reduced pro rata in line with the hours. If you do not pay any contractual sick pay, it is most likely that you will only pay your employee for the hours they actually manage to work.