Fit notes: general updates and tips for employees
Updates to fit notes
Recent changes to the law mean that nurses, physiotherapists, pharmacists and occupational therapists can now issue fit notes so long as you are discussing your fitness to work with them and they are registered healthcare professionals. Your GP can still issue fit notes also.
Community pharmacies do not have the requisite access to be able to issue fit notes, but pharmacists in hospitals or GP surgeries are usually able to.
The style of the fit note has also been updated. Your healthcare professional no longer needs to wet sign the form and can simply insert their name and profession. They must also include the address of the medical practice where they are issuing it from. If you are unsure about the sections of your fit note and what it means, the government’s detailed guidance might help you.
You can see examples of the updated and old fit notes here. Until announced otherwise by the government, both versions are still valid.
If you have spent time in hospital as an inpatient and your healthcare professional issues you with a fit note, you might also receive a Med10 form. This is a yellow form and will state the duration of time you have been in hospital for as an inpatient.
Keep the original
Remember, it is important that you keep the original copy of your fit note for your own records. Make a copy of the fit note and give the copy to your employer for their records.
Returning to Work
Just because your fit note expires at some point in the future does not mean you are precluded from going back to work. If you think you are fit to work, you can choose to go back to work and you do not need to speak to your healthcare professional first.
It’s important to be open to having reasonable discussions with your employer about returning to work and any changes that could be made to support you. It is a good idea to take written notes during such discussions so that you can remember what is discussed and what has been agreed. Depending on the advice given by your healthcare professional within the fit note, and what is agreed with your employer, generally any changes agreed should last until your fit note expires.
Acas offers helpful guidance on returning to work after a period of absence or reasonable adjustments that your employer ought to consider if you have a disability.
Why are fit notes important
Your healthcare professional should only issue you with a fit note if they think your fitness to work is impaired. The content of fit notes is general which gives you and your employer room to discuss possible adjustments that could support your ability to work or return to work effectively.
A fit note does not mean you have to be 100% better to go back to work. It may in fact highlight the limitations you have and so help identify what work you can do.
Remember, other forms of medical evidence are valid to justify sickness absence such as private medical certificates and Allied Healthcare Professionals Work Report. You would not also need to obtain a fit note in these cases.
Remember, the NHS issues fit notes for free and so your healthcare professional should not be charging you for the fit note if they are in fact a registered NHS healthcare professional.
If you think that your employer is treating you unfairly for being on sick absence, or is refusing to make reasonable adjustments if you are disabled, contact our Employment Law team on 01202 525333 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org and we would be happy to help.
How can we help?
When you submit this form an email will be sent to the relevant department who will contact you within 48 hours. If you require urgent advice please call 01202 525333.