'Fit-notes' among workplace health plans

25-11-2008

'Fit-notes' among workplace health plans
The government hopes to replace the 'sicknote' culture with a 'fit-note' as it announces a package of measures to improve workplace health.

Support for disabled people, the establishment of a national centre for working-age health and well-being and a 'challenge' fund helping small businesses improve workplace health are also among the measures announced today.

They come in response to Dame Carol Black's review of the health of Britain's working age population which found ill-health at work costs the UK economy £100 billion every year.

Health secretary Alan Johnson and work and pensions secretary James Purnell have confirmed the government's intention to replace the paper-based sick note with an electronic 'fit note'.

It fits in with Dame Carol's recommendation of a mental and physical health assessment for those off work for long periods of time.

"Sick leave costs an estimated £100 billion per year - but helping people stay in work doesn't just have an economic imperative, it has a moral and social one too," Mr Johnson said.

"Poor health can prevent people fulfilling their potential, leaving them more likely to slip into poverty and social exclusion. That is why we have set out a comprehensive framework to help support employers and the NHS encourage individuals back into the world of work as soon as possible."

Dame Carol has warned in response to the government's announcement that "attitudes and behaviours" need to be improved to ensure workplaces become happier and healthier places.

The government has taken this first important step, but we need to work in partnership, with business leaders, employers and individuals all having a role to play," she said.

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