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Fit note certification rule change

Fit note certification rule change 1st July 2022

Fit note changes

Fit note

Analysis finds more than 10 million sickness certificates were given out in the last 12 months, including more than 800,000 for stress

Research conducted by law firm GQ|Littler, based on NHS data for the year-ending March 2022, showed a 21 per cent yearly increase in the number of fit notes – up to 10.4 million from the 8.6 million issued in 2020/21.

Fit note

A fit note, also known as a statement for fitness to work, is a medical statement that doctors issue to patients whose health condition affects their ability to work.

Recent changes from 1st July now mean that employees can now get a sick note from a wider range of healthcare professionals. The change follows on from the digitalisation of fit notes on 6 April 2022

These healthcare professionals include:

  • GP or hospital doctor
  • registered nurse
  • occupational therapist
  • pharmacist
  • physiotherapist

It’s intention is to free up GP time for consultations and streamline the process for patients, employers and the NHS.

Regulations introducing the change were produced on 10 June 2022 and apply to England, Scotland and Wales.

As an employer you can ask for a sick note if someone has been absent from work for more than seven days – including non-working days, such as weekends and bank holidays.

Can these changes affect employers? 

There is a risk that the broadening of the categories of professionals legally able to issue fit notes could now lead to the increase in employees obtaining approved sickness absence with less stringent assessments being carried out. Lack of information about symptoms, diagnosis and prognosis will make it very difficult for employers to respond proactively.

If this happens it will mean employers may need to deal with an increase in sickness absence which exceeds the self-certification period.

An employer should consider reviewing their sickness policies in staff handbooks and sickness provisions in contracts of employment and update where necessary. This could include a requirement for employees to obtain fit notes specifically from GPs or medical doctors, rather than other “healthcare professionals”, as a condition of the entitlement to receive company sick pay.

Employers should ensure that those who are responsible for absence management, as well as employees themselves, are now aware of the new changes, both to the statutory fit note rules and to any subsequent changes made to company policy.

More info –

https://www.gov.uk/government/news/more-healthcare-professionals-given-powers-to-certify-fit-notes#:~:text=From%201%20July%202022%20nurses,present%20only%20doctors%20can%20do

If you would like us to review your sickness provisions or policies, please get in touch.

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