Doctors at the annual British Medical Association conference have called for changes in the sick pay regime so that employees can self-certify sickness for the first 14 days. The call comes amid rising concern amongst GPs about the demand for appointments.
The current system allows employees to self-certify for the first 7 days of sickness absence. Thereafter they must produce a fit note from their GP confirming the reason for their absence and its likely duration.
Whilst this may have the effect of reducing the burden on GP's it will create another problem for employers. If the self-certification period were to be doubled many employers, particularly smaller businesses with fewer staff, are likely to struggle to cover absences. Furthermore, the proposed change would also encourage some employees to take longer periods of time off work and be open to potential abuse.
From experience, whilst most employers are happy for employees to self-certify for 7 days it is unrealistic to expect them to wait 14 days for a fit note from a GP.
Workers should be able to self-certify sickness for up to two weeks to help reduce the number of unnecessary GP appointments, doctors say.