The Med 3 sicknote should be replaced with an Absence Advice Note (AAN) as part of a radical overhaul of the certification system, a group representing major occupational health providers has suggested.
The Commercial Occupational Health Providers Association (COHPA) said in order for employers to manage sickness effectively, more information is required to help them understand an employee’s situation and what can be done to aid their return to work.
The AAN would provide details such as an accurate diagnosis, the employee’s ability to work, suggested adjustments needed and details of treatment being given by the GP.
According to the CBI, sickness absence costs employers more than £13bn a year. Employers also fear as many as one in eight sick days are not genuine.
The proposal is unlikely to find favour with GPs, who have long complained they should play no part in short-term sickness certification.
Dr Mike Goldsmith, chairman of COHPA, said he recognised the changes would increase the burdens on GPs. “This could be eased by the payment of a reasonable fee to the GP, to be covered by either the government, the employer or insurance provider.”
Goldsmith refused to put a figure on what “a reasonable fee” might be, but suggested in the region of £20. “In the long term, if businesses cut down absence and sick pay then it is worth it,” he said.