The scheme will replace the old hand-written sick notes with versions that are computer-generated in GPs' surgeries. It is estimated that the total annual cost to the economy of ill-health in the UK amounts to £100 billion. Some 600,000 people submit incapacity benefit claims each year, although data indicate that half had been in work immediately prior to their claim.
Announcing the launch of the new note, Lord McKenzie, the Work and Pensions Minister, said: "Employers tell us that managing sickness absence can be a challenge. This is compounded by a 'sick note' system that makes sickness absence a black and white issue ? either you are unfit for work or you are not."We recognise how important it is to help people who are sick to stay in work or get back to work quickly ? the new fit note will help do just that."
Health Minister, Ben Bradshaw added: "We know that sickness absence is economically and socially damaging and makes people more likely to drift into social exclusion and poverty. Getting people back into work quicker is good for their health as well as the country's finances.
"The fit note will give GPs a new opportunity to benefit their patients, and I look forward to it being used in surgeries everywhere."
The fit note scheme is due to roll out across the UK next year, around springtime.