Fit note changes on 1st July
- Date: Monday 25th July 2022
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On 1st July 2022 the requirement for only GPs to issue a Statement on Fitness for Work (a “fit note”) changed and now nurses, occupational therapists, pharmacists and physiotherapists are able to issue fit notes.
This change in procedure has been implemented to ease the pressure on GPs. It will also enable the most relevant healthcare professional o provide guidance on an employee’s ability to work, any measures to assist them return to work and advise on their overall health situation.
Fit notes are required from the eighth day of a continuous sickness absence. They inform the employer of the reason for an employee’s absence and provide advice on how to support the employee to either return to work or remain in work.
The change should enable a faster return to work as employees will no longer be subject to their GP’s availability. It should also give a quicker turnaround time for getting fit notes to the employer and thereby enabling them to put in place a more informed plan to cover for the absent worker.
It may take employers time to adjust to the new approach and fully trust a fit note from someone other than a GP. However, by involving specialists in the fit note process, employers should start to see more fit notes that contain practical suggestions for the organisation to consider.
Record number of fit notes issued
In the year from March 2021 to March 2022, over 10 million fit notes were issued. This was an increase of 20% on the previous year’s figure.
Of that number, 800,000 fit notes were issued for stress making it the highest year on record for this health reason and a jump of 7% from the previous year.
The exact cause of the high volume of fit notes for stress is unclear but the impact of the pandemic on the mental health of employees is likely to be a key factor. The effect of lockdowns and the return to a new normal are likely to have exacerbated the situation.
The level of recorded stress is a reminder to employers to implement support mechanisms.
Mechanisms can be as simple as regular catch ups between line managers and team members to mental health awareness training, appointing mental health first aiders and ambassadors.
Please contact SSG if you would like further information on training team members to be mental health first aiders.
Source: Gavin Parrott, SSG