Statement of Fitness for Work (The Fit Note)

Statement of Fitness for Work (The Fit Note)

What is changing?

The changes to the form allow a doctor to provide more information on your employee’s condition and how they might be able to return to work.

The main changes are:

  • the removal of the fit for work option;
  • a new option for a doctor to advise if an employee may be fit for work with some support;
  • more space for a doctor to provide information on how your employee’s condition will affect what they do; and
  • helpful tick boxes for doctors to use to suggest common ways to help a return to work.

What stays the same?

  • The form can still be used as evidence for why an employee cannot work due to an illness or injury;
  • the Statement is still not required until after the 7th calendar day of sickness;
  • the information on the form is still advice to your employee. It is not binding on you;
  • the requirements for the payment of Statutory Sick Pay have not changed; and
  • employers’ obligations under the Disability Discrimination Act have not changed.

How can this help my business?

  • The new option of ‘may be fit for work’ means fewer employees will be ‘signed off’ work when they could possibly do some or all of their job with some support;
  • More information on how your employee’s condition will affect what they do. This will help you have informed discussions with your employee and to do simple things to help them return to work earlier and reduce unnecessary sickness absence; and
  • Fewer forms to deal with. In the past you may have received the (white) Med 3 form and the (pink) Med 5 form from an employee off work. From 6 April these will be streamlined into one form. The (yellow) Med 10 form, which states a period an individual has spent as a hospital in­patient, has not changed and will continue to be issued for this purpose.

Why change?

Managing sickness absence is a challenge for many employers – which is why we’re making it easier for doctors to provide you and your employee with simple, clear and practical advice about their fitness for work. This means that, where possible, you can help them make an earlier return to the workplace.
From 6 April 2010 we are introducing the new Statement of Fitness for Work or ‘fit note’. The fit note will continue to allow doctors to advise that an employee is unfit for work; however, it will also offer a new option, ‘may be fit for work taking account of the following advice’.

The aim of the new fit note is to give you and your employees’ greater flexibility in managing sickness absence. A doctor will be able to suggest ways of helping an employee get back to work. This might mean discussing with your employee:

  • a phased return to work;
  • altered hours;
  • amended duties; and/or
  • workplace adaptations.

The doctor will also provide written comments on the form offering a more detailed view of the kind of things that may help. For example, how your employee’s condition will affect what they do and some of the things that could help your employee return to work.

The changes are not about trying to get people back to work before they are ready, but about removing the challenges to them returning. This is about you and your employee working together and being open and honest. In general, work is good for health and the vast majority of employees place a far greater value on it than just their pay. By working together to find an arrangement that suits both of you, you can provide real benefits to both your employee and your business.

Fit Note © Crown Copyright 2013

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