What is a fit note and who can issue one?
A fit note is an assessment carried out by a health care professional that deems an employee unfit to work or fit enough to work but only in certain conditions, in which case adjustments would be recommended. For the first seven days of absence an employee would usually self-certify this absence however further absence would normally require a fit note.
Until 1 July 2022 only a doctor could sign an employee off work.
Now, fit notes only need to contain the name of a healthcare professional authorising the absence.
What is a health professional?
According to the law a health professional means:
“a person not being the patient who is…
- A registered medical practitioner
- A registered nurse
- a registered occupational therapist or registered physiotherapist
- A registered pharmacist”
What do these changes mean for employers?
The changes as to who can issue a fit note might raise concerns that it is easier for employees to access to fit notes and therefore could lead to a higher level of absences within your business.
That being said, the health professionals issuing the note must have a holistic view on the employee’s condition and we are of the view that therefore means that unnecessary fit notes are not more likely to be issued or certified.
It appears that the main reason for the change is the political climate and to alleviate pressure from GPs, rather than to enable employees to be signed off incorrectly.
5 things to do when given a fit note
- Check when your employee’s fit note expires.
- Hold a welfare meeting if it is a prolonged period of absence.
- Discuss alterations to the workload if necessary to employee’s condition.
- Use the fit note as evidence for your sick pay procedure.
- Keep copy of fit note for future records.
If you have concerns about whether a fit note is genuine or has been signed by the correct person contact us to discuss.
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