Commenting on the review of sickness absence, Brendan Barber of the TUC says, "The current method of sickness absence certification and pay is not in need of a major overhaul. 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. The report recognises that the current sick pay scheme is broadly fit for purpose, but suggests 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.”
Barber adds, "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. Employers could attempt to use the proposals to challenge the advice from a GP or seek to move someone who has become disabled to another job rather than make adjustments to keep them in their existing one.’ The report also fails to address the huge issue of presenteeism where workers come in to work when they should be off sick, despite evidence that this is a major and growing problem in the workplace."
The review recommended a new independent assessment service that employers and GPs can refer long-term sickness absence cases to for advice, claiming that employers could save around £100 million a year from reductions to sick pay bills.