Prime Minister sets out reform measures to tackle 'sick note culture'

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Peninsula Team, Peninsula Team

(Last updated )

Almost 11 million fit notes were issued last year, with an overwhelming 94% of those signed “not fit for work”. And that, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has said, is a problem that must be tackled with more help for people to get the appropriate support they may need to remain in work.

He has unveiled a package of welfare reform measures to tackle what he described as an unprecedented rise in economic inactivity and to ensure that the benefits system is better targeted at those who need it most.

Before the pandemic, the UK had the second lowest inactivity rate in the G7, lower than France, Germany, Italy, the United States and Canada. Since then, however, a significant number of working-age people have become inactive due to long-term sickness which has, in large part, been driven by mental health conditions.

A review of the fit note system will aim to stop people being written off as “not fit for work” by default and instead design a new approach where each fit note conversation focuses on what people can do with the right support in place, rather than what they cannot do.

As part of this, the Government will consider shifting the responsibility for issuing the fit note away from already stretched GPs towards specialist work and health professionals who, the Prime Minister said, have the available time and expertise to provide an objective assessment of someone’s ability to work and the tailored support they may need.

Setting out his vision for a “new welfare settlement for Britain”, Mr Sunak outlined the new challenges that have emerged since the pandemic, highlighting the unprecedented rise in inactivity and how the Government plans to tackle the problem.

A new WorkWell pilot is being rolled out and will support almost 60,000 long-term sick or disabled people to start, stay and succeed in work once it has gone live in some 15 areas across England.

The new system will also complement the role of occupational health in ensuring employers understand and benefit from more expert work and health support to retain and support those in work.

Visit BrAInbox today where you can find answers to questions like Can my employee come back to work earlier than their fit note indicates?

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