From 6 April, GPs will be able to advise if an employee "may be fit for work" and how the employee's condition will affect what they do. GPs will also have the option to advise if their patient would be able to work, subject to the employer's agreement, if temporary changes or amended duties could be accommodated.
Phil Grace, liability risk manager, Aviva, said: "Employers will need to establish a system for retaining confidential information about the employee's condition while ensuring that the necessary information about the changes suggested by the GP are acted upon."
Mr Grace said that the best approach is firstly, consider the suggestions on the Fit Note and decide what can be done, and then discuss the proposed changes with the employee. After that, agree what changes can be made and when the employee can return to work, and finally, monitor and review the success of what has been implemented.
"If an agreement has not been reached then set a review date. This will ensure that any improvements made by the employee can be factored into a new 'consideration' stage. It may also be necessary for the GP to re-assess the employee.
"Employers will undoubtedly need to make changes to the employees' usual terms and working environment," said Mr Grace. "Typical examples could include a phased return to work, alteration to the hours of work, amendment of duties and adaptations or alterations to the workplace."