The sick notes that doctors used to provide for their patients to certify that they are incapacitated for work were replaced with new ‘fit notes’ from 6 April 2010.
Using the new fit notes, doctors are now able to provide additional information including:
- whether the patient is unfit for work or may be fit for work with appropriate suggested advice if available
- if the patient will benefit from a phased return to work, altered hours, amended duties or workplace adaptations
- general details of any functional effects of the patient’s condition.
The aim of the additional information provided in the new fit notes is to allow employers, usually after consulting with the employee concerned, to consider the possibility of the employee returning to work earlier than he or she may have done under the previous system. However, the doctor’s suggestions are not binding and it is for the employer and employee to consider and agree any changes to the contract of employment or working conditions.
A sample of the new fit note is available to enable ECA employers to familiarise themselves with it.
Additional Medical Report
In order to make decide whether the employee can return to work, the employer may need to seek a more detailed report from the doctor after obtaining the employee’s permission to seek such a report and providing the doctor with details of the employee’s job duties.
For further details on how to obtain a medical report and the procedure to follow once such a report has been provided, please contact the ECA Employee Relations Department on 020 7313 4845. If you would like more information about the new fit notes, guidance is available to download from the Department of Work and Pensions website.