The Fit Note: A Guide for Employers

Fit note - The Statement of Fitness for Work: A Guide for EmployersGuide published to help employers understand “fit note” changes.

The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) has published a free guide explaining how the new “fit note” will affect employers when it replaces the traditional sick note on 6 April 2010.

Available to download from the DWP website The Statement of Fitness for Work: A guide for employers (547k PDF) provides employers with practical information on how fit note forms will be filled out by doctors, as well as how the new system will work.

Under the new regulations, doctors will have the option to tick a “may be fit for work” option — unlike the current system which focuses on how long a person should be given complete leave.

Doctors will also be able to make recommendations such as a phased return to work, altered hours or amended duties, and they may be able to suggest workplace adaptations or job changes — such as moving the person to the ground floor if they have mobility problems following surgery. The aim is to give employers more information to manage sickness absence better and how to ease a person back into work.

However, while employers will be responsible for ensuring that staff are fit to return to work under the terms of their contract, they will not be legally obliged to implement any recommendations made by GPs. 

The Confederation of British Industry’s director of employment, Katja Hall, said most business owners would welcome the changes.

“All too often a person is signed off sick when they are able to manage some form of their work. The fit note will allow doctors to tell employers whether somebody can do parts of their job, as opposed to all of it.”

“A phased return to work benefits many people who have been off ill, and the fit note will help them to discuss their options returning to work. But for the policy to really work, GPs must continue to improve their understanding of workplace health issues.”

Download the "fit note" guide The Statement of Fitness for Work: A guide for employers or see the Statement of Fitness for Work (The Fit Note) “From Sick Note to Fit Note”

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