Are you ready for fit notes?

Did you know that the next time your staff are off sick, they no longer need to bring you a sick note. From April 6th, you need to ask them about a Fit Note.

These are still issued by the GP, usually after seven calendar days of absence, but instead of just informing the employer that the employee is not fit for work, the GP now needs to focus on what the employee can do and decide whether the employee could come back given certain scenarios. GPs have to tick one of four boxes:

  • Not fit for work (this is the equivalent of the old sick note)
  • Return to work on restricted hours
  • Return to work on restricted duties
  • Return to work with physical changes to the environment

Some things to bear in mind:

  • There is no legal obligation to follow the advice given, as long as you have an objective business reason for not doing so
  • Employees do not have to return to work, even if the GP says they are able to do so with restrictions
  • If an employee returns on reduced hours, the employer only pays them only for the hours they are working
  • If the employee is on lesser duties, the employer can pay the appropriate rate for the job being done
  • Employers are not obliged to create a job for the employee to do, if they can not do their ‘normal’ job

Consistency and fairness are going to be essential in implementing this change in the law. Documenting and communicating your company sickness policy is essential. For help updating your policy and procedures, please feel free to contact us