Sick leave - independent assessments

Posted: 28th November 2011

Each year, sickness absence costs the tax payer £13 billion and £15 billion in economic output is lost. As the population of Great Britain is both growing and ageing, the Government is looking for ways of minimising the loss of work resulting from ill health and reducing the burden of costs
Whilst the fit note system introduced in April 2010 gives GPs the opportunity to provide information on how a patient’s illness might affect their ability to work, and advise on what workplace adaptations or adjustments could help facilitate a return to work, the majority of those seeking a medical certificate are signed off by their GP as unable to work.
The Department for Work and Pensions therefore commissioned an independent review of sickness absence, to be carried out by Dame Carol Black and David Frost CBE. This has now been published and contains a number of recommendations.
The report acknowledges that the primary role of GPs is the care and treatment of their patients. It therefore recommends that the responsibility for worker assessment be transferred to a new Independent Assessment Service (IAS). This would assess an individual’s physical and/or mental needs and advise on his or her capabilities, providing early supportive intervention to help them return to the workplace if possible.
In addition, the report recommends the introduction of a state-funded job-brokering system. Where possible, this would assist workers on long-term sickness absence in finding work that matches their capabilities, before they are forced to fall back onto the benefits system. A brokering system would enhance the opportunities available to workers for redeployment outside their existing employment.
The Government will publish its response to the report next year. Vew the full report here: Health at Work – An Independent Review of Sickness Absence.