Sickness absence review findings
22 November 2011
Last week, the Government published its sickness absence review report.
The report, which was commissioned back in February, includes a number of recommendations, which will be responded to in January. Some of these include:
- An independent panel should sign off workers on long-term sick leave, which could trump whatever their family doctor says.
- Those on long-term sick leave should be matched with more appropriate jobs rather than be left to fall out of work and claim benefits.
- Jobcentre Plus should change its processes so that thousands of workers are prevented from needlessly going onto sickness-related benefits. The review team want to scrap the 13-week wait before those on sick leave are assessed.
- Employment law should be changed to allow companies to dismiss workers on long-term sick leave without the risk of being sued, by negotiating a one-off cash settlement.
- "Generous" public sector sick-pay schemes should be reviewed. Currently, the average state scheme entitles workers to six months` absence on full pay, compared to eight weeks in the private sector.
- Employers that spend on medical treatments or workplace rehabilitation schemes to get sick people back to work quicker should be eligible for tax relief.
- The current system for recovering statutory sick pay should be scrapped, saving the state £50m a year.
- The Government must boost awareness among GPs and health care professionals that going back to work early after sick leave can aid recovery.
- The Government should publish more guidance for doctors on how to fill out "fit notes" correctly. Too often sick individuals are signed off as entirely unfit for work when they could be able to come back under flexible hours or changed duties.
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