GPs have been the traditional source of fit notes for employees. However, the government has passed new legislation to allow other healthcare professionals to do so. Occupational therapists, pharmacists and physiotherapists to legally certify and issue fit notes. By extending the scope, it is hoped it will be easier for employees to obtain one, whilst reducing the burden on GPs. A fit note can only be issued following an assessment of a person’s fitness for work. Therefore can not be issued on request or via over-the-counter services.
The new law applies across England, Scotland and Wales. It is a further change, in addition to the changes made in April 2022, which allowed for fit notes to be certified and issued digitally. (i.e. no handwritten signature.)
What is a fit note?
A fit note is a medical certificate to provide evidence of the advice given about an employee’s fitness for to work. The decision will be either ‘not fit for work’ or ‘may be fit for work’. (which may be subject to recommended adaptations to the workplace or job role.) They are provided free of charge if the employee has been ill for more than seven days. Employers should take a copy, and employees should keep the original.
As a HR Consultant covering Kent and London I like to keep my customers up-to-date with law changes. Employers may start to receive fit notes from these other professionals. Hence it is important that HR managers and business owners are aware of these changes so that they don’t refuse them just because they haven’t come from a doctor.
Existing absence management policies and procedures will likely need to be updated to include reference to fit notes being acceptable from a wider range of healthcare professionals. To discuss this law change or any other elements of sick leave, please get in touch.