Doctor's note

Doctors giving out sick notes too easily and for too long, according to a new survey from Softworks

A new survey from Softworks found that over half the respondents (55%) believe it’s too easy for employees to get a doctor’s sick/fit note and just under three quarters (73%) believe doctors are providing sick/fit notes for longer than necessary.

The survey “Pulling a sickie – have rates and reasons for employee absences changed since the pandemic” was conducted by Softworks in February/March 2023 and completed by 482 professionals in the areas of HR, Finance, IT, Operations, and General Management.

The purpose of the survey was to find out if non-genuine absence rates have increased or decreased since the pandemic, and if more flexible working is having a positive effect on absence rates. The research also looked at the top reasons for absences, if presenteeism is an issue and ways to encourage positive attendance behaviour.

Key findings

  • 75% believe non-genuine absences are causing a problem
  • 59% believe unscheduled absences have increased
  • 34% believe presenteeism has increased
  • 92% record employee absences

Softworks' survey results graphic

Commenting, Mairead Walsh, Softworks CMO, said:

“It was great to see such a high percentage of workplaces recording employee absences as you can’t manage what you don’t measure but disappointing that 75% believe that non-genuine absences are causing minor to serious issues in their workplaces. For workplaces where absences have decreased it was brilliant to see the positive impact of more flexible working options.”

“We were quite surprised with the response in relation to doctors’ sick notes. This is obviously a challenge for both workplaces and medical practitioners and perhaps there is a need to work more closely together to resolve it.”

“Businesses may need to focus more on early intervention, well-being programmes, and ongoing two-way communication with employees. In our experience working with clients, early recognition, effective assessment, and rapid intervention is key to managing absences and can prevent them from becoming longer-term and more sustained problems.”

The full survey findings and analysis paper (pdf) may be downloaded via this link.

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