Sickness & Absence - Fit for Work
Sick notes have been replaced by a new ‘fit note’ from 6 April 2010. Before this change, the medical statements issued by doctors to employees described the patient’s condition, and only indicated whether they should or should not return to work.
Under the new system, doctors can advise that employees either:
- are unfit for work; or
- may be fit for work.
If the doctor states that the employee may be fit for work, this means that the employee’s health condition may allow them to return to work with suitable support from their employer. The doctor will give advice on how the employee’s condition will affect what they do, and suggestions on common ways to help a return to work, including:
- a phased return to work;
- amended duties;
- altered hours;
- workplace adaptations.
The information on the form is still advice to the employee, and is not binding on the employer. However, it should help employers to have informed discussions with employees on how to make practical adjustments to enable employees to return to work. It should also reduce unnecessary sickness absence.
If it is not possible to make the changes necessary to support the employee’s return to work, the employer should view the statement as if the doctor has advised that the employee is ‘not fit for work’.
Employers’ obligations under the Disability Discrimination Acts 1995 and 2005 and for the payment of Statutory Sick Pay have not changed.
Our new template Letter to Employees on Fit for Work Arrangements informs employees of:
- The difference between the old ‘sick note’ and the new ‘fit note’;
- The type of information that employees should give to their GP or medical provider about their condition;
- The procedure for following the recommendations of the GP or medical provider; and
- The procedure where it is not possible to follow the advice of the GP or medical provider.
Simply-docs has updated our Sickness and Absence documents in respect of the fit note, including:
- Request for Medical Examination re. Persistent and Prolonged Sickness;
- HR Sickness Monitoring Checklist;
- Sickness and Absence Policy;
- Sickness Absence Self-Certification Form; and
- Guidance Notes Sickness and Absence at Work.
The contents of this Newsletter are for reference purposes only and do not constitute legal advice. Independent legal advice should be sought in relation to any specific legal matter.