Health & Safety

article icon

New Medical Statement: Fit Note

17 March 2010

From 6 April 2010, there will be a number of changes to the sick note, or medical statement, that employees get from their GP to certify sickness absence.

new medical statement - Fit Note

Previously a sick note simply stated whether a doctor believed that a person should or should not be in work. The new medical statement will either indicate that a person is not fit for work, or that they might be fit for work under certain circumstances.

The doctor will also be able to suggest changes that would assist a return to work. There is no requirement for the GP to write anything apart from that the person is not fit for work and how long the person is “signed off” for, and in most cases the patient and employer will see no change in the information that the medical statement gives.

In addition, in the future, the note will be completed and stored electronically by the GP rather than handwritten, although it will still be given directly to the worker to send to the employer. There will be no change to the basic purpose of the medical statement and it will still be used by employees as confirmation of illness if claiming sick pay.

The New Process

The new medical statement will still be evidence that an employee cannot work due to injury or illness, and normally will not be required until after the seventh calendar day of sickness.

The present arrangements for Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) and any occupational sick pay scheme that you may have will not be changed. As at present, the form is advice that is given to the worker to use to give to the employer as evidence of illness for the purposes of sick pay and is not binding.

The new form will now have two options: That the patient is “not fit for work” or that the patient “may be fit for work taking account of the following advice.”

There will be four types of alterations listed which the GP can tick. These are:

  • A phased return to work,
  • Altered hours,
  • Amended duties,
  • Workplace adaptations,

There will be space for the doctor to provide more information on the condition and how it may affect what they do.

In most cases there will be nothing to recommend and, as at present, the worker will go back to work once the GP feels they are ready to. There will not however be an option for the GP to say that a person is “fit for work” the doctor will simply not issue a new medical certificate.