14 July 2022

Recent changes to the fit note - what do employers need to know?

From an employment law perspective, The Statement of Fitness for Work (more commonly known as the fit note) is often used as evidence for statutory and contractual sick pay purposes and for the management of long term absences, by setting out whether an employee is ‘not fit for work’ or ‘may be fit for work’.

Where a fit note states that an employee ‘may be fit for work’, further tick boxes can be selected to suggest to the employer common ways in which a return to work may be facilitated.

Employers will normally require an employee to self-certify for the first seven days of sickness absence, and after this require a fit note to be issued if the absence continues for a longer period. A fit note will state the period of time it is to be valid for – it should not exceed three months in duration where it has been issued within the first six months of incapacity.

What are the changes to the fit note?

The DWP has recently published updated guidance in relation to fit notes following a number of changes to the law in this area.

·         From April 2022, a new version of the fit note was introduced. The new form does not require a wet-ink signature and it may be issued digitally. It instead may contain the issuer’s name and  profession as opposed to being physically signed; and

·         From July 2022, a fit note can now be issued by a broader category of healthcare professionals (in addition to doctors). This includes:- occupational therapists, registered nurses, pharmacists, and physiotherapists.

In the meantime, there is a period where both new and old version of the fit notes are legally valid.

What do employers need to do?

In light of the recent changes, it would be sensible for employers to revisit and review any relevant policies, procedures and notification requirements and also to ensure that staff are aware of the changes in relation to fit notes.

The DWP has published  guidance documents for employers and line managers, patients and employees, and healthcare professionals, which can be found here.

Need Help?

Contact Lily-Rose to discuss this further.

Related news

Back to top