Pass the sick bag not the pop corn: US verdict on DWP’s privatised sick note service

Last week I revealed how Lord Freud, the welfare reform minister, had awarded a new contract to Health Management Ltd, subsidiary of US multinational company, Maximusto take over from doctors  to decide when you should return to work if you claim more than four weeks sick pay.

The programme is to be rolled out from November to next May aims to save up to £165 million a year by getting people back to work faster as part of Lord Freud’s welfare reforms. Effectively it will mean you will get a telephone consultation  from a call centre and be emailed when you should return to work. If don’t co-operate you will lose your benefit.

The company’s press release reveals the 63 month contract will be rolled out first in Wales, the Midlands and the North before it hits the more affluent South.

Richard A  Montoni, the multi billionaire chief executive explained:“The Health and Work Service program is a natural opportunity to demonstrate Health Management’s expertise as the UK’s largest occupational health care provider and an important step in our long-term goal of expanding in this important market.

“While we expect an initial start-up loss due to the nature of the contract, the overall program economics are strong and once ramped, the contract is in-line with our targeted range of portfolio performance.”

Now through using a website called Glassdoor I have discovered what employees and ex-employees in the US think of Maximus. If you feared it was going to be a cheapskate alternative to your GP – aimed at using low paid, untrained, overworked people in call centres while maximising its profits for overpaid bosses you are right..The customer or claimant seems the least of their concerns.

These are a selection of their comments:

“When starting the business I asked for instructions on how to complete basic daily administrative tasks essential for audit. I was told by my colleagues and my manager not to bother as “we never do it”. Six months later, after figuring out, off my own back how to do it, Head Office comes down like a tonne of bricks on the office stating they have not been done and have failed audit. On top of this I worked with racist, homophobic and disgruntled colleagues who were obnoxious, lazy and didn’t give a damn. My line manager refused to verify my work as he was too lazy

“Management has absolutely no people skills. Little to no room for advancement unless you are related to a director. Unqualified employees are in management positions.”

“Almost everything in my team was micro-managed. One of the Directors was a control-freak and insecure about “loosing his relevance”. So “just to stay relevant” he created “red-tape” processes by making every small change go thru him with his approval, causing delays to routine work cycles.

“Managers and supervisors only care about bonus for themselves.Representatives can easily be disqualified for bonus. There is also too much favoritism among employees. Promotions happen on the basis if they like you or not and not so much on your qualifications. Some managers like to micro manage their staff by setting excessive production goals. Supervisors are under-qualified and possess little to no people skills.

“At MAXIMUS there is little to no room for advancement or growth. …This company makes unreasonable demands for staff to complete work and unreasonable deadlines. This company does not support personal time off due to family/personal issues.” (so they won’t sympathise with you if you are sick)

“No work/life balance. Projects are incredibly understaffed, combined with perpetually tight deadlines, resulting in an average work week of 60-80 hours. Long nights and lots of weekends.

“Upper management often promotes with in their own inner circle and rarely promotes anyone from operations. Most management has little to no hands on experience and are typically hired because they come cheap or are hired by someone they know.”

Of course not everybody is critical. There are some pro company pieces but they are mainly because evidently the firm offer free medical insurance ( not an issue here yet!), the commute to work was easy and some of the colleagues were good mates.

As one said: “Fairly normal work hours, decent training, clean environment, clean restrooms, free coffee, good feelings from helping people when all goes smoothly, being able to trade shifts with other workers, getting paid every week as a temp, working independently.”

and as a plus “On Fridays we have someone come to our desks with free bags of popcorn.”

No doubt that makes everything fine I think if half of this is true it more a case of pass the sick bag than the pop corn!


17 thoughts on “Pass the sick bag not the pop corn: US verdict on DWP’s privatised sick note service

  1. Pingback: US verdict on DWP’s privatised sick note service – David Hencke | Vox Political

    • i find it wrong maximas going against a doctors diagnosis surely if a person signs sick.. the DWP cannot go against a consultant or gp,s diagnosis after all they sign the person sick whether for four weeks or long term.


  2. They have no medical knowledge so how can they possibly know if you are recovered or not? There are people who can’t go to work for a while with an illness or disability – heart attack victims are not back at work in 4 weeks, broken legs take time to heal and you cannot get back to work that easily until the plaster is taken off and everything is fine, after a couple of weeks of physio!
    At the moment, my son is in hospital after a brain operation went wrong and a bleed happened during it. He is still in intensive care, his operation was 2 weeks ago today and he’s only having the sedation removed today after having a tracheostomy this morning.
    Tell me, who the hell can tell him he’s going to be fit for work in another 2 weeks???????
    Jeez, I hate this country!


  3. Reblogged this on SMILING CARCASS'S TWO-PENNETH and commented:

    How the hell can it be justified that a doctor can say you are unfit for work, but a private company can, on the other end of a ‘phone overrule him- by email!

    Everybody who gets an email ‘fit note’ from them while their doctor says they aren’t ready to return to work should immediately enquire whether the docto0r’s opinion has been taken into consideration and if the response is yes, ask what their medical qualification is to override his professional opinion and how they can tell over the ‘phone; if the answer’s no, ask them why not?


  4. Pingback: » Pass the sick bag not the pop corn: US verdict on DWP’s privatised sick note service | David Hencke

  5. First this is DWP failing duty of care to “Clients” – sick people are sick, The Health and Safety Acts only name doctors – not companies as being people who can make decisions [otherwise any tom Dick or Harry could make these kind of decisions, or in this case George “Smitt” our lovely DWP Minister, or Lord Fraud in this case]. I wonder if the firm is covered Insurance wise for making these decisions – Medical Malpractice anyone? Or is it DWP? Also, by enacting the threat of withdrawl of benifits that would fall under “threats and menaces” as they are being paid/rewarded to do it. As the commissioning body DWP would be in the frame as well. This is a can of worms – someone forgot the Fraud & H&S laws, and how medical malpractice works me thinks.


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