Many employers have stated they do not think the fit note system is adequate, nor do they believe GPs are giving employees the proper information they need to return to work after taking off for illness.
The fit note system became effective in April of 2010, supplanting the former sick note system, which made doctors responsible for determining whether or not patients should return to work, and a suggested timeframe for leave. The new system allows for doctors to state the patient may be allowed to return to work, under certain conditions.
XpertHR recently conducted a survey evaluating the fit note system, which asked respondents who in their respective organisations were responsible for dealing with fit notes. 77.7% stated HR handled their company’s fit notes, while 62.2% stated the job also rests with line management. 19.7% reported their occupational health department deals with fit notes.
The fit note system also allows for GPs to leave extended comments regarding the condition of the patient and any special needs that may be necessary. Despite this extra measure, testing showed that 31.7% of surveyed employers stated their employees’ doctors left this section completely blank. Furthermore, 44.4% stated GPs used the section “infrequently”.
Over half of those tested also stated the new system makes interpreting doctor recommendations more difficult.