At the British Medical Association’s annual conference, GP’s called for a change in the UK’s policy for self-certification. Current law says that people need a doctor’s note if they are off work for more than a week, but GP’s say this is placing too large of a burden upon them. The BBC reports GP’s as saying that workers should be able to self-certify sickness for up to two weeks, in order to reduce the number of unnecessary GP appointments.
A consultant for ELAS, specialising in employment law says if this change came about, it could be difficult for employers.
“Employees would be able to claim nearly two weeks of sick pay (whether contractual sick pay or SSP) without sight of any medical evidence. This would be of huge cost to employers and there is a real risk that employees could exploit the system. It would be very easy for them to seek additional time off work, knowing that their employers will struggle to get medical evidence to prove that an absence is not genuine.
He continues: “When it comes to self-certification, it’s very important for employers to have robust absence management systems in place in order to minimise exploitation. Calculating absence rates using the Bradford Factor or programmes such as Absence Assist has been proven to reduce absenteeism by as much as 62%. Other measures which employers can put in place include return to work interviews with employees to get full details of the absence and assess whether any further action is needed, as well as fully investigating any cases of suspected malingering. With such potential for gross misconduct, it’s vital that employers have detailed investigation and robust disciplinary procedures in place so as to minimise the risk of employees abusing the system.”