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New Government guidance on getting the most out of ‘fit notes’

November 17, 2023
Employment Law

Are you getting the most out of ‘fit notes’? This is the question the Government is asking in their latest guidance note.

The new guidance

For sickness absences lasting up to seven calendar days, most employers allow their employees to ‘self-certify’. This means that the employee doesn't need to see their doctor. Instead, on returning to work, they simply complete an internal form in which they confirm the reason for and the duration of their absence.  

For absences lasting more than seven calendar days, most employers require the employee to provide a Statement of Fitness for Work (a.k.a. a ‘fit note’). Fit notes are most commonly issued by GPs. However, these days, other doctors, nurses, pharmacists, physiotherapists and occupational therapists can also certify fit notes (where appropriate). 

Normally, fit notes will set out a period of time for which the employee is unfit for work. However, they can also be used by medical professionals to indicate whether the employee might be fit for work, if special arrangements are put in place. Previously, it was hoped that this additional flexibility could reduce overall levels of sickness absence. However, given that the CIPD recently reported the highest levels of sickness in more than 10 years, it is questionable whether they have had the desired effect.

Are you confused?

Sometimes, employers aren’t quite sure what to do with the fit notes they receive. The new Government guidance suggests that this may be an opportunity missed. So if you are wondering what more you can get out of the information contained in the fit notes you receive, why not click on the link here.

For more targeted advice, please get in touch and we’d be happy to help.

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