Request a Fitness for Work Form - Changes from 10 December 2021
Employees can take time off work if they’re ill. They need to give their employer proof if they’re ill for more than 28 days.
If they started their sick leave before 10 December 2021, they must give proof if they’ve been ill for more than 7 days.
If they’re ill just before or during their holiday, they can take it as sick leave instead.
Fit notes and proof of sickness
Employees must give their employer a doctor’s ‘fit note’ (sometimes called a ‘sick note’) if they’ve been ill for more than 28 days in a row and have taken sick leave. This includes non-working days, such as weekends and bank holidays.
If they started their sick leave before 10 December 2021, they must give proof if they’ve been off work for more than 7 days, including non-working days.
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.
If they are off work with any other illness, they can get a fit note from a GP or hospital doctor. If their employer agrees, a similar document can be provided by a physiotherapist, podiatrist or occupational therapist instead. This is called an Allied Health Professional (AHP) Health and Work Report.
Fit notes are free if the employee has been ill for more than 28 days when they ask for one. The doctor might charge a fee if they ask for the fit note earlier.
If the employee’s illness started before 10 December 2021, they can get a free fit note after 7 days.
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 off work for 28 days or less, they do not need to give their employer a fit note or other proof of sickness from a medical professional.
If the period of sickness started before 10 December 2021, employees do not have to provide a fit note if they are off work for 7 days or less.
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.
Sick leave and holiday
Statutory holiday entitlement is built up (accrued) while an employee is off work sick (no matter how long they’re off).
Any statutory holiday entitlement that is not used because of illness can be carried over into the next leave year. If an employee is ill just before or during their holiday, they can take it as sick leave instead.
An employee can ask to take their paid holiday for the time they’re off work sick. They might do this if they do not qualify for sick pay, for example. Any rules relating to sick leave will still apply.
Employers cannot force employees to take annual leave when they’re eligible for sick leave.
When an employee changes their holiday to sick leave they’re paid Statutory Sick Pay which will count towards the amount of holiday pay they’ve received. The exceptions to this rule are:
- they do not qualify for Statutory Sick Pay
- they were off work sick and being paid ‘occupational sick pay’
Returning to work
Employers must make changes to an employee’s working conditions if they’re disabled. These changes are known as ‘reasonable adjustments’ and could include working shorter hours or adapting equipment employees use at work.
Employees can get advice from Acas on managing health conditions at work and returning to work from sick leave.
MED 3 for COVID-19
Requests for MED3 ‘Fit Note’: Kent LMC Coronavirus (Covid-19) Guidance for Practices (with thanks to London wide LMCs )
Requests for certification of absence from the workplace relating to covid-19 may fall into five categories:
1. Symptomatic so isolating for seven days - patients can and should self-certify for the first seven days as normal if they are unfit to work. Should they need a notice for to cover self-isolation they should be referred to https://111.nhs.uk/isolation-note
2. Symptomatic and remaining unwell for over seven days - if they remain unwell and unfit to work after seven days, they should visit https://111.nhs.uk/isolation-note where there is an online self-assessment tool. They do not need to contact their GP for a certificate.
3. Household contact symptoms so isolating for fourteen days as per government advice - GPs cannot and are not the gatekeeper of the statutory sick pay system and can only provide certificates for the purpose of illness, not in relation to government advice regarding self-isolation. Employers are responsible for putting in place arrangements for home/remote working where this is possible. Where it is not, the employee may obtain an isolation note from https://111.nhs.uk/isolation-note
4. At risk group so following government advice - where they do become unwell during or after this time, point 1 and 2 applies. They do not need to contact their GP.
5. Those in full time education who are symptomatic or requiring self-isolation. There is no NHS requirement to issue certification to schools or colleges to confirm absence. These organisations must work with parents and students to ensure that any absence is appropriately recorded, obviating the need for a ‘doctor’s note’. They do not need to contact their GP.
The current Government Guidance for employers and businesses on coronavirus (COVID-19) states; “By law, medical evidence is not required for the first 7 days of sickness. After 7 days, employers may use their discretion around the need for medical evidence if an employee is staying at home. We strongly suggest that employers use their discretion around the need for medical evidence for a period of absence where an employee is advised to stay at home either as they are unwell themselves, or live with someone who is, in accordance with the public health advices issued by the government.”
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