Policy News Journal - 2016-17

The Chartered Institute of Payroll Professionals ……………………………………………………………Policy News Journal

Raising employment rate of over 55s could add £105bn to GDP 20 June 2016

According to new PwC analysis the UK could add around 5.8% to its GDP (around £105 billion) if the employment rate of workers over 55 could match the highest performing EU country of Sweden.

The analysis from PwC compares employment of older workers across 34 OECD (Organisation for Economic Co- operation and Development) countries. This would translate to a 15 percentage point increase in the UK’s full- time equivalent employment rate for workers aged 55-64 and a 4 percentage point increase for people aged over 65. PwC’s Golden Age Index is a weighted average of indicators – including employment, earnings and training – that reflect the labour market impact of workers aged over 55. The UK has remained middling in the rankings since 2003, rising by one place to 18th in 2014 from 19th in 2013. While the UK has increased its employment rate among 55-64 year olds broadly in line with Sweden since 2003, the gap between the two economies remains similar. For people aged over 65 the employment rates of the UK and Sweden are closer together, but there is still room for improvement. The UK has a high incidence of part-time work for 55-64 year olds. While this may be preferable for some workers, it could also adversely affect earnings, pensions and job security and so enters into the index negatively. But the UK has made some progress since 2003 in closing the gender gap between male and female employment rates for 55-64 year olds.

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Leading doctors push changes to sick note system 1 July 2016

Leaders of the British Medical Association want the time an employee is off work because they have certified themselves as sick to be doubled from one to two weeks before they need to see a GP.

According to an HR Review news report, staff who fall ill should be able to stay off work for up to two weeks before they need a sick note in order to relieve the strain on overstretched GPs, leading doctors believe.

Requiring a sick note after one week takes time away from patients who may need appointments more, according to Dr Richard Vautrey, deputy chairman of the BMA’s GP committee.

Vautrey speaks before the BMA debates a motion at its annual conference which “demands that certification of fitness to work (‘fit notes’) need not be done by a medical professional and that there should be an extension of self-certification for illness from seven to 14 days”. Doctors also want the law changed so that other health professionals such as midwives, physiotherapists and senior nurses, can also sign sick notes. But organisations representing employers rejected the call and warned that it could lead to more people staying off work falsely claiming to be ill. “Federation of Small Business members are concerned this change could lead to a rise in absenteeism ”, said Mike Cherry, its national chairman. “Fit notes are an important check in the system, and smaller firms would not want to see them undermined.” But the Department of Work and Pensions said it would not alter how sick notes operate. “The system was set up following consultation and we believe it supports individuals and employers without overburdening GPs. We have no plans to change the existing policy.” The BMA’s call comes as GP leaders urge the NHS to enable patients to bypass seeing a family doctor and get treated by a physiotherapist, mental health specialist or experienced nurse instead to help tackle the building stresses of GP work.

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