Introduced in April 2010 to replace the sick note, the fit note gives evidence of your fitness to work. You only require a fit note if you are absent from work for more than seven days (including weekends), otherwise you can self-certify your sick leave.
Issuing the fit note
Your fit note will either be hand written or printed out from a computer.
The fit note is a record of advice from your doctor. It is not legally binding for you or your employer.
Fit notes are mainly issued by GPs. If you are receiving treatment in hospital, your fit note will be issued by a hospital doctor.
Helping you get back to work
Studies have shown that being out of work is bad for your health. Your chances of returning to work decrease the longer you are on sick leave. The sooner you return to work after illness or injury, the more beneficial it will be for you, both mentally and physically.
Returning to work, even before you have fully recovered from your illness, can help your recovery.
The fit note is intended to help you get back to work as soon as you are able.
If you are not fit for work
If your doctor thinks that you are not fit for work, your fit note will suggest when you might be able to return to work. Your employer can take a copy for sick pay purposes, however you should keep the original.
If you are fit for work
If your doctor thinks that you are able to undertake some form of work, the fit note enables suggestions to be made of ways of getting you back to work. This could include:
- a phased return to work;
- amended duties;
- altered hours;
- workplace adaptations.
There will be space for your doctor’s comments, so it’s important that you give your doctor as much information as possible about how your health affects your ability to work. Ask your doctor for practical advice on your ability to work as opposed to detailed information on your health condition.
The fit note enables you and your employer to agree what’s best for you both. For example, instead of taking sick leave, you could arrange to work from home for a period of time.
More about the fit note
If you’re still unsure what the different parts of the fit note mean to you, you can access guidance for employees and patients on the new fit note system through GOV.UK.