Employers who ask staff to go to their GPs and get sick notes before they
have been off work for seven days are wasting 2.4 million GP appointments a
year, a study has concluded.
The report by the Cabinet Office’s Regulatory Impact Unit found employers
often wasted GPs’ time by not using self-certification for periods of less than
The report, Making a Difference: Reducing the Burden on General
Practitioners, recommended businesses use procedures such as ‘return to work’
interviews to support self-certification.
Employers needed to contemplate referring work absentees to occupational
health specialists following recurrent periods of illness, it added. "This
may help to give a more accurate picture of an employee’s health to assist in
sickness absence management."
Organisations also had to consider whether it was "absolutely
necessary" for an employee to see a GP for medical information.
Doctors, meanwhile, have suggested that workers should be allowed to call in
sick for a month before being required to produce a doctor’s note.
GPs complain the seven-day rule creates unnecessary bureaucracy and workload
on doctors and helps neither patients nor employers.
The idea was mooted by Dr Susan Robson, chairman of the British Medical
Association’s occupational health committee, at the association’s annual
representative meeting in July.