Sick (fit) notes

If you are absent from work for more than 3 days because of illness you need to complete form SC2 (or SC1 if self employed). These should be available from your employer or the HMRC website. Your employer can ask you to confirm that you’ve been ill. You can do this by filling in a form yourself when you return to work. This is called self-certification.

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). Your employer will probably ask for proof of your illness. Most employers ask for a fit note from your GP.

However, this will also depend on your employer’s company policy on sick leave (or sickness absence). This policy should tell you how many days you can be off sick before you need to provide proof of illness or a fit note.

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.

GPs are not obliged to issue a certificate of absence where this is of less than 7 days duration. However, they may choose to certify an absence as a private service subject to a payment of a fee. All private fees are displayed in reception.

There is also no requirement for a GP to issue a certificate for other institutions such as schools requesting one for children having time off for sickness as this is not based on “occupational” need. These requests will be refused, or alternatively offered as a private letter service subject to the payment of an appropriate fee.

Statement of Fitness to Work (MED3)

The new format allows a doctor to certify that the patient is not fit for work, or that they are “fit for work subject to the following advice”. This second option may be used where the patient is unable to work all of their normal hours, or may need some support or changes to their normal duties. Where an employer is not able to comply with the recommendations then this is a matter for the employer and the employee, and a new certificate is not appropriate.

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. Since April 2010 there has been no need to have a certificate stating you are fit to work.  When you feel able to work you may do so without a doctor’s certificate.

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

Key Facts

  • Only a doctor can issue a certificate.
  • Telephone consultations are acceptable as a means of assessing the patient.
  • During the first 6 months of absence the certificate may only be issued for a maximum of 3 months absence from work.
  • After the first 6 months the period may be for any which is “clinically appropriate”.
  • The advice on the certificate is not binding on employers.
  • Occupational health expertise is not required.
  • Advice may include aspects such as amended hours, workplace adjustments, changes to duties, phased returns, assistance, and workplace adaptations.
  • No charge may be made for employment purposes.
  • No Statement is required until after 7 days absence.
  • A Statement may be issued:
    • On the day the patient is assessed.
    • On the date after the patient is assessed if considered that it would have been reasonable to issue the Statement the day before.
    •  After considering a written report from another doctor or registered healthcare professional.

The date of the assessment of the patient is the day of a face to face, or telephone consultation, or date of consideration of the written report referred to above.

A Med 3 certificate can be issued towards the end of the first week (day 6 or 7) of the illness if it is obvious that the patient will not be fit to return to work by the 7th day. A Med3 must be issued by the 7th day and you can request this by completing a e-consult under Administration section Patients with a continuing disability requiring Med 3 certificates should submit a e-consult in advance of the expiry date of their certificates.

Patients discharged from hospital should be given an appropriate certificate by their consultant. The hospital should issue a certificate covering the entire period of recovery required. Please ensure you have this before leaving the hospital.