Minister for Employment Senator Eric Abetz today announced a new ‘fit note’ to help get sick and injured employees back to work has been developed for use by all GPs in the ACT and surrounding region before a potential national expansion.
The certificate of capacity is designed to help the more than 400 GPs in the region focus on their patients’ capacity for work, rather than their incapacity.
The initiative is part of Comcare’s Health Benefits of Work Programme which advocates that a timely, supported return to work for people with injury and illness reduces disability.
“There is no doubt that work is good for an individual’s mental, physical and social health as well as that of their family and the community,” Senator Abetz said.
“The new fit note will help employers understand what they need to do to support a person to return to work and good health as quickly as possible.”
While the old certificate prioritised claim-related information and a patient’s limitations, the new certificate focuses on capacity for work and encourages doctors to consider options including a graduated return to work, modified duties and reduced hours.
It also removes confusion and duplication by standardising the information required by multiple workers’ compensation and accident injury schemes operating in the ACT, giving GPs more time to focus on their patients’ recovery.
The certificate is supported by all workers’ compensation and motor accident personal injury insurers in the territory including Comcare, Compulsory Third Party and the Department of Veterans’ Affairs.
“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.
“The certificate of capacity is an important step in the right direction. It needs to be matched by reasonable adjustments by employers to find suitable work and support for early return to work.”
Comcare will evaluate the ACT implementation of the certificate of capacity before working towards national implementation in the Comcare workers’ compensation scheme.
More information on the Health Benefits of Work programme is available on the Comcare website.