Following a recent investigation into a suspicious fit note provided to one of our clients, HR Services Scotland decided to research further the possibility of fraudulent fit notes and their availability to the public. Shockingly, over 904,000 separate websites are generated by Google search engine when investigating “fake sick notes” with thousands of websites claiming to produce “a real actual replica” doctor’s note to explain absences from work.
The most popular website advertises fake Doctor’s notes, customised doctor’s letter, as well as dentist’s notes and appointment cards for as little as £9.99. Yet despite the illegality of an employee providing a fraudulent fit note, the website has cited that it cannot be held responsible because of the disclaimer they have published, effectively removing all accountability from them and back to the employee. This means that employers must be even more diligent when accepting fit notes that they may suspect to be falsified.
As many businesses will have experienced, sickness absence can have a detrimental impact on company productivity and success. Currently 130 million days are lost per year to sick days; equating to £16 billion for UK employers to pay. Whilst most organisations fully appreciate the time needed for an employee to fully recover from an illness or injury, it is also important to emphasise the severity of falsely claiming sickness absence payments and time off that has not been confirmed by a registered GP.
In conclusion, there is no one way to ensure that a fit note is not genuine, as these replicas will be almost identical to the real thing. However, employers can prevent this type of fraud by conducting sickness absence review meetings, return to work interviews, and informal chats to ensure that all staff are aware of the importance of their health and wellbeing. Creating an open workplace can reduce absence rates significantly, improve productivity and reduce the risk of staff resorting to this type of fraudulent activity.
If we can help you with this or any other HR issue, please do not hesitate to contact a member of our HR Team at HR Services Scotland Ltd on 0800 652 2610.