Employers unsure of how to use sicknotes

Many employers are unsure how they to use sicknotes in the most effective way, the government-backed pilot into alternatives to sicknote certification has found.

Initial evaluation of the pilot in the West Midlands, where 10 organisations were looking at alternatives to GP sicknote certification, has revealed confusion among many employers about when they should be demanding sick notes from workers.

Employers were often wary about not getting a sicknote because they believed their payroll systems automatically required one or because they believed they had no choice but to get one from the GP.

But Dr Barbara Kneale, occupational health and safety adviser at car manufacturer Peugeot Citron in Coventry, who is leading the pilot, said that most of the feedback so far from both employers and employees had been hugely positive. “We have had a lot of times where cases have been solved over the phone or by a visiting OH practitioner,” she said.

Employers also did not realise they could question a sicknote’s conclusions. “It is not set in stone,” she said. “There are a lot of misunderstandings.”

The trial scheme is looking at alternatives to GP-led sick note certification as part of plans to reduce the amount of time GPs spend signing people off work.

Employers are testing a variety of alternatives, including using in-house OH services, and telephone-based and remote OH services.

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