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August 6, 2009

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Employers voice concerns over fit note

Snapshot research by the Institute for Employment Studies (IES) has revealed

employers have a variety of anxieties over how the proposed new

fit-note system will work.

The Institute polled a small number of employers at a series of ‘managing well-being at work’ workshops in May to gauge current thinking on well-being issues. Asked for their views on the introduction of the fit note, 32 out of 42 employers either expressed concerns or saw no benefits in the proposals.

A prevailing issue was that employers felt they needed more information about the practicalities of the fit note. Some of the reservations expressed involved concerns over the ability of GPs to manage occupational health issues successfully; the way that fit notes are introduced and managers’ ability to use them successfully; the potential for the system to increase employers’ workload; and the ability of employers to make recommended accommodations.

Claire Tyers, who leads the work, health and well-being research team at the IES, said: “There are still outstanding concerns about how the new fit-note system will work. Employers need more information on how the scheme should be implemented. They worry particularly about the potential extra work it will create for their already stretched HR departments and line managers. Policy-makers need to give clear guidance to employers on this as soon as they can.”

Despite such concerns, 10 employers said they were positive about the new system, while 21 were open-minded, with a number agreeing that the fit note had the potential to reduce sickness absence.

Fewer resources, brought about by the recession, appears to be one of the main reasons behind employers’ current focus on employee well-being. One public-sector employer commented: “Resources are shrinking. Improved performance with less is expected. We need employees to be at work to deliver this.”

Of the 42 responses received, 27 said managing well-being had become more important in the recession, while the remaining 15 said there had been no change in their company’s attitude to well-being since the downturn.

Top priorities for employers to improve absence management include:

What makes us susceptible to burnout?

In this episode  of the Safety & Health Podcast, ‘Burnout, stress and being human’, Heather Beach is joined by Stacy Thomson to discuss burnout, perfectionism and how to deal with burnout as an individual, as management and as an organisation.

We provide an insight on how to tackle burnout and why mental health is such a taboo subject, particularly in the workplace.

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