This month the government will circulate guidance on the issuing of ’fit notes’ to replace ’sick notes’. This is just one of several initiatives intended to help achieve the government’s target of reducing the number of incapacity claimants by a million by 2015.
We have seen the impact of the Welfare Reform changes of 2008. The Employment and Support Allowance, which changed the basis for assessing incapacity claimants, has made it harder than it has been in decades to successfully claim state benefits.
Under the new regime, more than two-thirds of claimants are now rejected.
The new fit note will make it even tougher. From 6 April, doctors can give guidance on whether individuals are fit to return to work and under what conditions. This could be through working fewer hours or through performing amended duties in their role.
So those who were signed off as sick in the past could be forced to go back to work on reduced hours, which could have a detrimental effect on their standard of living.
Clearly there is a job for us to do in educating people about relying on the state, and in promoting the benefits of income protection.
With an IP policy that can provide proportionate benefit, individuals could receive some payment alongside their reduced earnings, giving them an incentive to get back to work.
If your clients think the state will support them in the event of illness or incapacity, then now is the time to set the record straight and promote the importance of IP.