In September this year, the then Minister for Employment, Senator Eric Abetz, announced a trial of the Fit Note by around 400 GPs in the Australian Capital Territory. Senator Abetz would like to see the scheme eventually rolled out nationally. This is not a new idea; the United Kingdom adopted the Fit Note in 2010 and it has changed the way doctors in the United Kingdom view injured workers.
The goal of replacing the Sickness Certificate with a Certificate of Capacity (the Fit Note) is to help GPs focus on an employee’s capacity for work, rather than incapacity. The initiative is part of Comcare’s Health Benefits of Work Programme. The government insurer knows that a timely supported return to work reduces long-term disability in injured employees.
“The new Fit Note will help employers understand what they need to support a person to return to work and good health as quickly as possible”, Senator Abetz said.
The Fit Note encourages doctors to think differently about injured employees and consider options such as a gradual return to work or modified or reduced duties.
“GPs can provide advice on how someone can stay at work when their health circumstances change, rather than certify extended work absences that can lead to long-term disability”, Senator Abetz said.
Comcare will evaluate the trial in the Australian Capital Territory before working towards a national implementation. Recovery Partners will be keeping a close eye on how this trial progresses. Our experience tells us that an employee’s recovery from workplace injury is accelerated in the workplace compared with at home.
Disclaimer – these articles are provided to supply general safety information to people responsible for OHS in their organisation. They are general in nature and do not substitute for legal and/or professional advice. We always suggest that organisations obtain information specific to their needs. Additional information can be found at www.workcover.nsw.au
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