GPs unwilling to mediate between patients and employers

GPs also perceived, sometimes from experience, that employers are inflexible when it comes to facilitating the return to work. Some had found that employers were sending employees back to them for an old sick note, in order to avoid the responsibility for an employee not yet fully fit. GPs also described situations where employers had put employees under pressure to ask for a fit note to return to work too early, because they wanted to reduce their sickness absence costs. They were aware of employers adopting strict sickness absence policies and taking disciplinary action against employees after just two or three individual sickness absence episodes.

GPs believe that other agencies need to be involved in the process

GPs suggested that occupational advice should be paid for by businesses. They feel that employers want much more specific advice about what duties employees are capable of performing. They also said that agencies with experience in tackling non-medical causes of absence should be involved.

Group risk providers argue that they are ideally placed to tackle long-term sickness absence because they can act as a mediator between the employer and employee and are able to investigate and tackle both medical and non-medical causes of absence. They are also able to help employers exercise their duty of care to employees and advise employers on how best to facilitate the return to work.


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