Is this the end of the sick note culture?

The government has recently announced that British businesses will be helped to tackle long-term sickness absence in the workplace thanks to a new independent assessment and advisory service aimed at getting people back to work and away from long-term sickness benefits.

It is projected that the scheme will save employers up to £160 million a year in statutory sick pay and increase economic output by up to £900 million a year.

Currently, only 10 per cent of employees of small firms have access to an occupational health service, compared with more than half of staff in larger firms. The new service, which is expected to be up and running in 2014, should enable employers of all sizes to access expert advice to help them manage sickness absence in the workplace.

Revised fit note guidance for GPs will also be published to emphasise the importance of assessing an individual’s health condition in relation to work in general and not just for one specific role.

Colin Smith, Head of Commercial and Employment at Blaser Mills Solicitors, commented: “This is the government’s response to recommendations made by Dame Carol Black and David Frost CBE in their 2011 report, Health at work: an independent review of sickness absence. These proposals have the potential to make a significant difference to the bottom line for smaller employers. However, as with all government initiatives, much will depend on whether the new service is given the funding and resources needed to make the impact the government intends.”

If you need advice or assistance in relation to employee sickness problems or any other employment issue, telephone Colin on 01494 478605 or email him at