Headlines: April 29th, 2004

The Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development is calling for employers and family doctors to work together to help the sick-note system run more efficiently. It follows research from insurance company Norwich Union showing that up to nine million of the 22 million annual requests to GPs for sickness certificates are suspicious.Ben Willmott, Employee Relations Adviser at the CIPD, said the institute’s own research showed that dealing with absence management was now one of the biggest priorities for employers. To be effective they had to ensure they had progressive people management policies in place. These would prevent staff feeling like they did not want to go to work.

Progressive policies had to ensure staff were treated fairly at work, had achievable targets and the support, training and recognition to help them achieve these targets.

Mr Willmott said GPs also had a key role to play and that it was in their interests to issue sick notes in a responsible manner by making every effort to establish if a patient had a genuine health problem that would prevent them from attending work. “If GPs give sick notes without good reason and without much thought, then it is not surprising that they find themselves in demand,” he added.

The most recent absence survey from the CIPD showed that absence levels were cut by a tenth in 2003 – down from ten days per year to nine on average.