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Update on Fit Notes

What’s Happened?

The way fit notes are issued has recently gone through a series of changes. Fit notes are documents that employees are generally required to provide to their employers if they have been off work due to sickness absence for longer than the self-certification period which is currently 7 days.

During the pandemic, people’s behaviour changed significantly. People predominantly worked from home, shopped online, and limited public contact as much as possible.  This also extended to GP appointments, with many appointments take by the phone or video. Whilst we have almost returned to normal, there has been a continued preference for many people to continue attending GP appointments virtually.  To better accommodate this trend, fit notes can now be issued digitally. To ease pressure on GPs, fit notes can also be issued by a number of different healthcare professionals including nurses, occupations health therapists, pharmacists and physiotherapists, as well as GPs.

There has also been a change to what should be included on a fit note. New guidance has been published by the Department for Work and Pensions stating that the purpose of a fit note is to offer guidance to employers on how they can help support an employee through their illness or incapacity to ensure a smooth return to work. The healthcare professional completing the fit note is therefore encouraged to describe on the form the employee’s general fitness for work and not just specific to their role. Healthcare officials are also encouraged to make practical advice about the employee’s health in general and what adjustments might be made to support a return to work.

Practical Steps

Whilst a fit note will be considerably shorter than an occupational health report, it would be sensible for employers to view fit notes as “mini” reports and implement any adjustments mentioned on the fit note where possible to enable employees to return to work as soon as possible. Employers should also be ready to receive fit notes that have been signed off by various healthcare professionals.

Please contact –

Simon Turton

Sturton@pm-law.co.uk

Tel: 0114 220 1795

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