Bogus sicknote requests reach epidemic levels

Up
to nine million out of 22 million requests to GPs for sicknotes each year are
suspicious, according to new research from Norwich Union.

The
research follows a 2003 survey of 1,000 HR professionals and 300 doctors by
Personnel Today and sister magazine Doctor, which revealed that both doctors
and HR wanted a rethink on the system.

Personnel
Today’s research found that more than 80 per cent of doctors no longer want
responsibility for writing sicknotes, while 77 per cent admitted they issue
sicknotes too easily.

Eighty
per cent HR professionals surveyed told Personnel Today they were seeing more
staff signed off sick, with 30 per cent saying the numbers had increased in
2002-2003.

The
Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) says employers and GPs
must work together to help the sicknote system run more efficiently.

Ben
Willmott, employee relations adviser at the CIPD, said: "Our research
shows that tackling absence management has become one of the biggest priorities
for employers. But to be effective, employers must ensure they have progressive
people management policies in place, which are less likely to lead employees to
wake up and think ‘I don’t feel like going to work today’.

"This
means ensuring that staff are treated fairly at work, have achievable targets
and the support, training and recognition to help them achieve these
targets," he said.

"But
GPs also have a key role to play. It is in their interests to issue sicknotes
in a responsible manner by making every effort to establish if their patient
has a genuine health problem that prevents them from attending work. If GPs
give sicknotes without good reason and without much thought, then it is not
surprising that they find themselves in demand."

The
most recent absence survey from the CIPD showed that absence levels were cut by
a tenth in 2003 down from 10 days per year to nine on average.

By Quentin Reade

Comments are closed.