Human Resources

Fit Notes - Manager Information

Why has the ‘Sick note’ been replaced with the ‘Fit note’?

This is to enable people with a medical condition to return to work with suitable support from their employer rather than simply being signed off sick for an extensive period when, in some cases, staff can continue to work as they recover from their condition.

The ‘sick note’ or doctor’s medical certificate/statement has been replaced by the ‘Statement of Fitness for Work’ ('fit note') with effect from 6 April 2010.

Sample of fit note

What's different about the ‘Fit note’?

Option for the GP to advise ‘May be fit for work’

The key difference is that a GP will now be able to make suggestions that could facilitate the person returning to work rather than issuing a certificate for sickness absence. So the fit note will either state the person is either:

  • unfit for work; or
  • may be fit for work.

If the member of staff is unable to work, the doctor will state this on the form and provide a date or period of time that they should remain away from work. However, if the doctor feels the person could do some work depending upon their health condition they will confirm this as ‘may be fit for work’.

This could be through a:

  • phased return to work
  • flexible working
  • amended duties
  • workplace adaptations.

The GP will also provide general details of the functional effect of the individual's condition and may advise that an occupational health report is sought to facilitate a return. The advice given by the GP is not binding on the employer but is a suggestion of what, in their medical opinion, may help the person to return to work.

Managers are responsible for considering whether the suggestions may be accommodated and should seek advice from Human Resources. If there are concerns about accommodating a suggestion made by the GP, we would need to discuss this with the individual, carry out a health and safety risk assessment and may need to seek further medical advice

If the employee does not accept the offer of a return to work, this should be discussed with them to establish why and further advice from the GP and/or occupational health may be required.

How long is the GP’s advice in place for?

The GP will state the period that the advice in the Statement covers. The Statement may cover a period of up to a maximum of 3 months during the first 6 months of sickness. The Statement refers to calendar days and managers should be aware that for occupational sick pay purposes and absence management, the College’s policy relates to working days.

Returning to work

The member of staff is expected to return to work on their next normal working day following the expiry of the Statement unless the GP has specifically noted that the employee needs to revisit their GP for a further assessment prior to returning to work. Previously, the GP would confirm when the employee was considered ‘fit for work’ on the sickness certificate.

The employee may return before the Statement expires subject to agreement by the College.

What does not change?

  • If an employee is too ill to work, the Statement will advise this.
  • The Statement is still not required until after the 7th calendar day of sickness.
  • The requirements for the payment of Statutory Sick Pay have not changed
  • .The College’s obligations under the Disability Discrimination Act have not changed.
  • If an employee has been a hospital in-patient they will still be issued with a Med 10 form to confirm the dates of their stay.
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Postal address: Human Resources, Birkbeck, University of London, Malet Street, London WC1E 7HX