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Information and guidance for public, NHSGGC staff, and community-based services.  Hospital visiting restrictions now in place.

A Comprehensive Guide to Attendance Management

SUPPORTING EMPLOYEES RETURNING TO WORK

Fit notes and sick notes

The 'Fit Note' is a short and informal name for a 'statement of fitness to work', which replaced the sick note in 2010.

All you need to know in 30 seconds

The 'Fit Note' is a written note issued by GPs or consultants working in conjunction with OH, detailing how an employer can help the employee return to work after a period of absence. It can also be used as a statement of not being fit for work. It may also contain other pertinent information on the condition of your employee which may affect their ability to work, with suggestions of ways to support them. The fit note may also state that your employee may be fit for work, in which case the GP believes that returning to work will aid in their recovery and should also provide details on how to get the employee back into work.

The DWP has further helpful guidance on Fit Notes.


All you need to know in detail

The 'Fit Note' is usually a written note issued by GPs or consultants working in conjunction with OH, detailing how an employer can help the employee return to work after a period of absence. It can also be used a statement of not being fit for work. At the GPs discretion it may also contain other pertinent information on the condition of your employee which may affect their ability to work, with suggestions of ways to support them.

There can be confusion around fit notes where managers automatically believe it means an employee is well enough to come back to work - this is not always the case as the fit note can actually be used for one of two things: to state that an employee might be fit to return to work after a period of ill health (may be fit for work), or to sign the person off work sick completely for a defined period of time (not fit for work).

You should receive a copy of the fit note as soon as possible once your employee has received it, so that you know what the reason for their absence is, if there is anything you can do to support them to return to work and set up a return to work plan. Your finance department will usually need this for payment purposes so you should familiarise yourself with your local procedure for this.

If your employee does not provide a copy that details they are unfit for work, then they would be classed as being on unauthorised absence and you would need to speak to your local HR department for further support. It is in the employee's best interest to be open and honest about this, so you can provide or arrange for the support they need.

Where the fit note marks your employee as 'may be fit for work', it means the GP believes that returning to work will aid in their recovery and should also provide details on how to get the employee back into work. It's important that you work with your OH service to ensure everything is covered. Often the fit note may detail alternative duties for the employee until they feel fit to undertake all their usual duties and this should be agreed by all parties.

GP's are often not familiar with their patients work or work environment so it may be possible for your OHS to suggest alternatives to support staff to return to work. Where you feel this may be an option you should seek further advice from OHS.

Last Updated: 07 May 2019