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Ministers respond to sick note call

Government ministers are due to respond to recommendations designed to improve workers' health, including replacing the sick note with a "fit note", it has been revealed.

James Purnell, Work and Pensions Secretary and Alan Johnson, Health Secretary, will give their reaction to an official report that calls for a new approach to health and work.

The proposals made by Dame Carol Black include offering more support to workers in the early stages of sickness leave.

She said there should be more emphasis on returning to work following illness and suggested replacing sick notes with "fit notes".

The report advises that a new Fit For Work service should be established, and the government, healthcare professionals, employers and trade unions should all adopt a new approach to health and work-related matters.

The extra pressure placed on workers as the UK enters recession may lead to sickness absence becoming a huge issue, analysts have predicted.

A government spokesman said: "The government is expected to welcome a number of the recommendations, emphasising its commitment to both helping people who've been off sick to get back into work and providing better support to people who become ill to stay in work longer."

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