Sick Note to Fit Note
A new ‘fit note’ been introduced in place of the doctor’s sick note. With your employer’s support, the note will help you return to work sooner by providing more information about the effects of your illness or injury.
Fit note – changes explained
The new fit note will be called the ‘Statement of Fitness for Work’ and will be used in England, Scotland and Wales. It will have more information than the present doctor’s sick note.
The main changes will mean:
- your GP will be able to say if they think you are ‘not fit for work’ or ‘may be fit for work’your GP can add advice to the note for your employer on how simple changes to the job you do may allow you to return to work earlier
- there will be fewer kinds of medical statements forms issued by GPs
- If your GP gives you a note that says that you ‘may be fit for work’ if your employer makes simple changes for you but your employer is unable to make those changes or they do not help you then the fit note will function as if the GP had said that you are ‘not fit for work’ – you will not need to return to the GP to get a new note to cover this situation.
- Your GP will put on the fit note whether or not he/she needs to see you again at the end of the period covered by the note. Even if your GP has put that he/she needs to see you again but you have completely recovered and you are back to normal working you do not have to see the GP again about your fit note, although you may, of course, wish to see him/her about other matters. There is no need to get a note to ‘sign back on to work’.
- GPs do not issue fit notes for the first seven days of absence caused by illness or an injury and they do not issue return to work notes, even if your employer asks you to get these. If you are having trouble with your employer over these matters you should consult your Union or the ACAS help line on 08457 47 47 47.
How the changes will help employees and employers
Research shows that long periods out of work can lead to worse health while working can be good for your physical and mental health and well-being. The longer you are absent through illness, the lower are the chances of you returning to work. Work may help you recover quicker from illness.
The new fit note is intended for both employees and employers by helping people back to work as soon as possible. Employees will benefit from better health and well-being because they have gone back to work. Employers will be able to keep skilled staff, contributing to the success of the business and reducing sickness absence.