Sickness review ups pressure on ill workers
A government commissioned report that recommends taking responsibility for signing off sick workers out of the hands of GPs and handing it to a new Independent Assessment Service (IAS) could lead to damaging pressure on sick workers, the TUC has said. Commenting on the review of sickness absence carried out by Dame Carol Black and former business lobby leader David Frost published this week, TUC general secretary Brendan Barber said: 'The current method of sickness absence certification and pay is not in need of a major overhaul. Unions are concerned that however well-intended this report, there is a danger it will be seized upon by some rogue employers as an excuse to force people back to work before they are good and ready.' He added that the report, which has been welcomed by the government, 'while very limited in its remit, recognises that the current sick pay scheme is broadly fit for purpose, but makes a number of recommendations in respect of job-brokering and an independent assessment system which could be used to force sick and injured employees back to work far sooner than is good for their health. While employers need more advice and support in dealing with sickness absence, the biggest gains can be made by supporting workers through early access to rehabilitation, as well as increasing prevention measures to stop them becoming ill or injured in the first place. Unfortunately, because of the narrow remit that the government gave to the review, these issues are not covered.' The report comes a week after a research report in the USA showed that the absence of a sick pay system resulted in a cost to the US economy of over $1 billion a year (Risks 532).
Issued: 25 November, 2011