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5 facts about fit notes

Fit notes are the written notification of fitness to work which must be provided by an employee when they are absent from work due to sickness. Here are 5 things you should know about fit notes:

  1. By law, a fit note must be presented to the employer for absences extending beyond seven consecutive days. Employers can choose to include a shorter period in their own policies and contracts. Seven days is the default.
  2. A fit note issued in the first six months of incapacity cannot exceed three months in duration. Aside from this, there is no limit on the length of time for which fit notes can be issued.
  3. The fit note doesn’t contain an unconditional “fit for work” option. Therefore, an eligible healthcare professional can no longer use it to sign an employee back to work with a clean bill of health. Instead, the employee may be declared ‘not fit for work’ or ‘may be fit for work’.
  4. Since 1 July 2022, a wider range of healthcare professionals have been able to sign fit notes. Doctors, registered nurses, occupational therapists, pharmacists, and physiotherapists can all sign them.
  5. Providing a fit note is not a strict requirement for eligibility for statutory sick pay. Employees are able to self-certify their absence for the first seven calendar days for SSP purposes. After that, employers have to have some evidence of incapacity to administer SSP but they are free to decide what form that takes. It does not have to be a fit note (although, in practice, it usually will be).