Article date: 29 March 2010
Aviva is warning employers to prepare for the introduction of the Fit Note (the informal name for the Statement of Fitness for Work), due to go live from April 2010.
Replacing the traditional sick note, or more correctly known as the MED3, the Fit Note is set to cut the cost of sick leave for employers and is estimated to benefit the British economy by an estimated £240 million over the next 10 years.*
From 6 April, GPs will be able to advise if an employee "may be fit for work" and how the employee’s condition will affect what they do. GPs will also have the option to advise if their patient would be able to work, subject to the employer’s agreement, if temporary changes or amended duties could be accommodated.
Phil Grace, liability risk manager, Aviva, says: “Fit Notes require changes to workplace and work processes and will involve those in charge of the operation of the business to have an understanding of what has been suggested by the GP.
“Employers will need to establish a system for retaining confidential information about the employee’s condition whilst ensuring that the necessary information about the changes suggested by the GP are acted upon.”
Grace suggests that the best approach is to firstly, consider the suggestions on the Fit Note and decide what can be done, then discuss the proposed changes with the employee. After that, agree what changes can be made and when the employee can return to work, and finally, monitor and review the success of what has been implemented.
“If an agreement has not been reached then set a review date. This will ensure that any improvements made by the employee can be factored into a new 'Consideration' stage. It may also be necessary for the GP to re-assess the employee.
“Employers will undoubtedly need to make changes to the employees’ usual terms and working environment,” says Grace. “Typical examples could include a phased return to work, alteration to the hours of work, amendment of duties and adaptations or alterations to the workplace.”
Finally, Grace advises employers set up a system for managing the new Fit Notes: “Ensure management knows what has been suggested by the GP, carry out assessments of the employee and the suggested changes and encourage employees to report back on whether the changes are proving satisfactory.”
Employers may need to seek advice or support about enacting or introducing changes. Visit www.aviva.co.uk/risksolutions/ for a Hardfacts document or the Occupational Health Service for SMEs (adviceline): www.workingforhealth.gov.uk/Initiatives/OccupationalHealth/Default.aspx (link is no longer active)
Jo Rosenberg at Staniforth on 0161 919 8014/ 07973 143215 or Sally Leeman from Aviva’s press office on 01603 684225 / 07789 270677.
Notes to editors
Aviva, the international savings, investments and insurance group, is the world’s fifth largest insurance group, serving 53 million customers across Europe, North America and Asia Pacific.
In the UK, Aviva is a leading provider of life, pensions, investment, general insurance and health products to more than 20 million customers. Aviva also provides roadside assistance through RAC. Products are distributed through a number of channels including IFAs, brokers, corporate partners and direct to customers via the internet.
Aviva's UK Insurance business has a market share of around 15%, making it the largest general insurer in the UK. The business is focused on insurance for individuals and small businesses.
Aviva's life and pensions business in the UK has a total market share of 12% and a top three position in its key markets of savings, protection, and annuities.
Aviva’s news releases and a selection of images are available from the internet press centre at www.aviva.com/media.