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Understanding A Fit Note

What Is A Fit Note?

fit note is a statement of fitness for work. It is given by a GP or hospital doctor stating that the employee is unfit for work or if temporary workplace adjustments are needed. 

A fit note will give details of the illness and recommended dates of how long to remain off work. 

It is important to note that the sick dates are guidance, this does not necessarily mean that the employee needs to wait until the expiry date to return back to work. Medical experts suggest employees should be able to return back to work when they are ready as it may help with their recovery period.

Employees should discuss this with the employer in case workplace adjustments need to be made such as working different hours temporarily, different duties, avoiding heavy lifting etc.

The fit note gives a number of options as tick boxes; a phased return to work, altered hours, amended duties and workplace adaptions. The doctor can tick any of these options to assist the employee back into work. There is also a comment box should the doctor wish to add further suggestions, but such suggestions are not binding on the employer and if not practicable the employee would remain off sick.

Return To Work Date

Where an employee has been suffering from poor health (covered by a fit note) and wants to return back to work before the fit note ends, the employers cannot ask for a ‘fit to return back to work’ note. Doctors do not issue these. 

Where medical clarity is required the employee should give consent to contact his GP for a medical report; until then the employer should rely on the expiry date of when to expect the employee back to work unless the doctor issues another fit note. Fit notes should always be signed by a doctor. 

Fit notes are not just exclusively from the UK. You may get fit notes from other countries. This can also be accepted and treated in the same way as a fit note.   

If you are unsure about a fit note and the note does not look genuine, employers should discuss this with the employee before contacting the HMRC Fraud team. The employer may wish to ‘withhold SSP’ pending investigation. With an overseas fit note, there should be a contact number of the medical centre that the employer can contact for further information.

If you need help and advice regarding a fit note, please do not hesitate to contact me on 0113 350 4030 or at emma.roberts@scesolicitors.co.uk.

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SCE Solicitors is a boutique employment law and litigation practice based in Leeds which advises clients nationwide. Please note that the information in this blog is to provide information of general interest in a summary manner and should not be construed as individual legal advice. Readers should consult with SCE Solicitors or other professional counsel before acting on the information contained here.

Emma Roberts
Latest posts by Emma Roberts (see all)
Emma Roberts

Emma is a trainee solicitor at SCE Solicitors. Emma commenced her training contract in September 2018 and is currently working in the employment law department assisting director Samira Cakali. Emma also assists in the running of the firm’s myHR service where she can support you in the day-to-day management of your staff.

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