General information about the Statement of Fitness to Work (Fit Note)
From April 2010 the Sick Note changed to the Fit Note. This is the form your doctor will give to you when your health affects your ability to work.
What has changed?
The fit note allows your doctor to provide you with more information on how your condition affects your ability to work. This will help your employer to understand how they might be able to help you return to work sooner. The fit note is a document that provides guidance to your employers, which they can decide whether to action or not. However, if the employer decides to ignore this guidance and this impacts your health it can be used in an employment tribunal.
The changes mean that your doctor can:
- advise when you may be fit for work with some support
- suggest common ways to help you return to work
- give information on how your condition will affect what you can do
What stays the same?
The fit note can still be used as evidence for why you cannot work due to illness or an injury. You still won't need the fit note as evidence until after your seventh calendar day of sickness.
Understanding your fit note
When your doctor provides you with a fit note they will advise you on one of two options. Either you will be 'not fit for work' or you 'may be fit for work'.
'Not fit for work'
Your doctor will choose this option when they believe that your health condition will prevent you from working for a stated period of time.
'May be fit for work'
Your doctor will choose this option when they believe that you may be able to return to work while you recover with some help from your employer.
Your doctor may include some comments which will help your employer understand how you are affected by your condition. If appropriate, they can also suggest one or more common ways to help you return to work. This could include:
- a phased return to work - where you may benefit from a gradual increase in your work duties or working hours, for example after an operation or after injury
- altered hours - allowing you the flexibility to start or leave later, for example if you struggle travelling in the 'rush hour'
- amended duties - to take into account your condition, for example removing heavy lifting if you have had a back injury
- changes to your workplace - to take into account your condition, for example allowing you to work on the ground floor if you have problems going up and down stairs
You can find up to date information on the Fit Note here.