Fit notes and proof of sickness
Employees must give their employer a ‘fit note’ (sometimes called a ‘sick note’) if they’ve been ill for more than 7 days in a row and have taken sick leave. This includes non-working days, such as weekends and bank holidays.
The fit note will say the employee is either ‘not fit for work’ or ‘may be fit for work’.
If it says the employee ‘may be fit for work’, employers should discuss any changes that might help the employee return to work (for example, different hours or tasks). The employee must be treated as ‘not fit for work’ if there’s no agreement on these changes.
Employers can take a copy of the fit note. The employee should keep the original.
If employees are self-isolating and cannot work because of coronavirus (COVID-19) they can get an ‘isolation note’ online from NHS 111. They do not have to go to their GP or a hospital.
Changes to the Fit Note
From July 2022 the Department for Work and Pensions has updated the law for the fit note so that it can now be issued by:
- Occupational Therapist
The healthcare professional needs to assess the employee’s fitness for work before giving a fit note.
Fit notes are free if the employee has been ill for more than 7 days when they ask for one. The healthcare professional might charge a fee if the employee has been ill for 7 days or less.
Other proof of sickness
If their employer agrees, the employee can use a similar document called an Allied Health Professional (AHP) Health and Work Report instead. A podiatrist as well as a physiotherapist or occupational therapist can provide this.
A physiotherapist or occupational therapist will give either a fit note or AHP Health and Work Report depending on the employee’s needs. The AHP Health and Work Report cannot be used to apply for Employment and Support Allowance (ESA).
Self Certification Sick / Fit Note for less than 7 days
If employees are off work for 7 days or less, they do not need to give their employer a fit note or other proof of sickness from a healthcare professional.
When they return to work, their employer can ask them to confirm they’ve been off sick. This is called ‘self-certification’. The employer and employee will agree on how the employee should do this. They might need to fill in a form or send details of their sick leave by email.