Most people are aware that it is mandatory to provide employers with a fit note after 7 days sickness absence. These notes normally state whether an employee is fit or more often to return or occasionally may return to work under modified conditions. These are notes are signed by th employee’s GP.
In an effort to ease the burden on GPs the government has introduced the following changes to the fit note procedure.

From 6 April 2022
It is no longer necessary for your doctor to sign the fit note. They may now instead issue the document digitally, with a digital signature instead. As such, it may no longer look the same may not have the doctor’ signature on it.

From 1 July 2022
Up until 1 July 2022, it has been the case that only a doctor could issue a fit note (otherwise known as a “statement of fitness to work”) after they have seen (or spoken) to an employee and assessed their fitness to work. From this date, the list of medical professionals from which you can obtain a fit note is being significantly extended.
From 1 July 2022, the law will change to allow the following to issue fit notes:

  • nurses;
  • occupational therapists;
  • pharmacists; and
  • physiotherapists.

These healthcare professionals will be able to issue fit notes following an assessment of an individual’s fitness for work (a fit note cannot be issued without an assessment) and will be treated in the same as one provided by a doctor/GP..
Employers should  ensure that employees continue to follow their existing absence reporting procedure available. employees can continue to self certify their absence  for the first seven calendar days,  using the existing rules. For sickness absences of more than seven days, they will need to provide a fit note.

As usual, on their return to work, a brief meeting should be held with them to discuss their sickness absence and the medical advice sought and obtained.