Fit Note Reform

30th April 2024

By Claire Hollins, Senior Associate.

On 19 April as part of the wider Back to Work plan (which formed part of the 2023 Autumn Statement), the Government announced an intention to tackle what it describes as the ‘sick note culture’. As levels of sickness absence continue to rise, the Government wants to reduce the number of economically inactive people within the working age population.

Despite the changes that were made when Fit Notes replaced Sick Notes in 2010, NHS Digital statistics have revealed that almost 94% of Fit Notes issued record that the employee is not fit for work rather than give advice about what the employee could do or recommend workplace adjustments. The Government believes that reforms can be made to the current system to both free up GP/primary care time and support people to start and stay in work.

To achieve this the Government is proposing to introduce a new WorkWell service to provide a single assessment and gateway into local employment services. As part of this there will be a new triage service for those seeking a Fit Note which will include an assessment of fitness for work by specialist work and healthcare professional rather than GPs. The rationale being that they will be better placed to have conversations about what people can do with the right support and to refer them to the appropriate support.

The Government is inviting evidence from employers (amongst others) about how well the current Fit Note process meets your need, what works well, what can be improved and what additional information would be helpful. You can find the call for evidence here and responses can be submitted here until 8 July 2024.

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