The Trades Union Council (TUC) has sounded a note of caution about the latest proposals regarding the sick note.

General secretary Brendan Barber agrees that more needs to be done to help people off sick return to employment – and in a number of cases a supported or phased return may quicken the process.

His comments come as the government launched a consultation on a new fit note to replace the sick note culture. However, he added that in many circumstances an early return could hinder the recovery process, or even cause a relapse.

“Most employers won’t have the expertise to give workers the support they need for an early return and this could make matters worse,” said Mr Barber.

Meanwhile, the unionist added that there is a “danger” that the sickness process becomes a conversation between a doctor and an employer.

He concluded that access to proper occupational health support is the “most effective way” of encouraging employees back to work.