Sick/Fit Note Certificates
Taking Sick Leave
Employees can take time off work if they’re ill. They need to give their employer proof if they’re ill for more than 7 days.
If they’re ill just before or during their holiday, they can take it as sick leave instead.
Fit Notes And Proof Of Sickness
Employees must give their employer a doctor’s ‘fit note’ (sometimes called a ‘sick note’) if they’ve been ill for more than 7 days in a row and have taken sick leave. This includes non-working days, such as weekends and bank holidays.
If employees are self-isolating and cannot work because of coronavirus (COVID-19) they can get an ‘isolation note’ online from NHS 111. They do not have to go to their GP or a hospital.
If they are off work with any other illness, they can get a fit note from a GP or hospital doctor. If their employer agrees, a similar document can be provided by a physiotherapist, podiatrist or occupational therapist instead. This is called an Allied Health Professional (AHP) Health and Work Report.
Fit notes are free if the employee has been ill for more than 7 days when they ask for one. The doctor might charge a fee if they ask for the fit note earlier.
The fit note will say the employee is either ‘not fit for work’ or ‘may be fit for work’.
If it says the employee ‘may be fit for work’, employers should discuss any changes that might help the employee return to work (for example, different hours or tasks). The employee must be treated as ‘not fit for work’ if there’s no agreement on these changes.
Employers can take a copy of the fit note. The employee should keep the original.
If employees are off work for 7 days or less, they do not need to give their employer a fit note or other proof of sickness from a medical professional.
When they return to work, their employer can ask them to confirm they’ve been off sick. This is called ‘self-certification’. The employer and employee will agree on how the employee should do this. They might need to fill in a form or send details of their sick leave by email.
Sick Leave And Holiday
Statutory holiday entitlement is built up (accrued) while an employee is off work sick (no matter how long they’re off).
Any statutory holiday entitlement that is not used because of illness can be carried over into the next leave year. If an employee is ill just before or during their holiday, they can take it as sick leave instead.
An employee can ask to take their paid holiday for the time they’re off work sick. They might do this if they do not qualify for sick pay, for example. Any rules relating to sick leave will still apply.
Employers cannot force employees to take annual leave when they’re eligible for sick leave.
When an employee changes their holiday to sick leave they’re paid Statutory Sick Pay which will count towards the amount of holiday pay they’ve received. The exceptions to this rule are:
- they do not qualify for Statutory Sick Pay
- they were off work sick and being paid ‘occupational sick pay’
Returning To Work
Employers must make changes to an employee’s working conditions if they’re disabled. These changes are known as ‘reasonable adjustments’ and could include working shorter hours or adapting equipment employees use at work.
Employees can get free advice from Fit to Work on managing health conditions at work and returning to work from sick leave.
Employees who are off work sick for more than 4 weeks may be considered long-term sick. A long-term sick employee is still entitled to annual leave.
Dismissing A Long-Term Sick Employee
As a last resort, employers can dismiss an employee who is long-term sick, but before they can do this employers must:
- consider if an employee can return to work - such as by working flexibly or part-time, doing different or less stressful work (with training if necessary)
- consult with employees about when they could return to work and if their health will improve
An employee can take their case to an employment tribunal if they think they’ve been unfairly dismissed.
Self Certification Sick/Fit Note For Less Than 7 days
If you have been ill for 7 days or less you don’t need to see a Doctor. You can complete a Self-Certification form yourself. However some employers insist on a Doctor’s note regardless. A Doctors note under these circumstances involves a charge of £10.
Many employers have their own self-certification forms. If your employer doesn't have its own form you can fill in the Self Certification Form online. You can also download a form here and then print it, fill it in and hand it in to your employer. You do not need to see a Doctor.
Doctor’s Sick/Fit Note for more than 7 days
If you have been ill for more than 7 days you will need a doctor’s certificate. These certificates are called ‘Fitness to Work’ Certificates.
You will need a doctors appointment to get a 'Fitness to Work' certificate. This may be face to face or telephone.
If you have already been seen by your doctor about this illness your certificate will be sent to you within a week.
Requesting an additional Sick/Fit Note
If you have already had a Sick Note (Fit Note) for this illness your Doctor may not need to see you to issue an additional Sick Note. Please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org, stating your name, date of birth and the exact reason why you need an extension. We will contact you to let you know when you can collect your Sick / Fit Note or we may contact you to arrange an appointment.
The email facility cannot be used for a first Fit Note or to request appointments.