Obtain a Fitness for Work note

The DWP has issued strict guidelines for doctors to follow when issuing Fitness for Work notes (formerly known as ‘sick notes’).

You do not require a doctor's sickness certificate for any illness lasting seven days or less. Your employer may however require you to complete a self-certification form (SC2) which is available from your employer or on the HMRC website.

Evidence that You are Sick

If you are sick for more than seven days, your employer can ask you to give them some form of medical evidence to support payment of SSP (statutory sick pay).

It is up to your employer to decide whether you are incapable of work. A medical certificate, now called a 'Statement of Fitness for Work’ (see below) from your doctor is strong evidence that you are sick and would normally be accepted, unless there is evidence to prove otherwise.

You could also provide evidence from someone who is not a medical practitioner, e.g. a dentist. Your employer will decide whether or not this evidence is acceptable. If your employer has any doubts, they may still ask for a medical certificate from your GP.

Statement of Fitness for Work - ’Fit Note'

The 'fit note' was introduced on 6 April 2010. 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.

In Summary

If the illness is:     

  • Less than 3 days: your employer should not require a Fitness for Work note
  • Between 3 and 7 days: you should hand your employer a "self certification" form. You do not need to see the doctor for this
  • More than 7 days: You will need a Fitness for Work note and must see the doctor to get one. It is only at 7 days that you need a doctors’ note. If you require a note covering illness when you saw a different doctor (e.g. casualty) the doctor at the surgery must be in receipt of written evidence that you saw another doctor.

Fitness for Work notes needed before 7 days illness will incur a charge that should be borne by your employer.

For more information see the DirectGov website (where this information was sourced).

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