On 6 October 2023, the Department for Work and Pensions published new guidance on “fit notes” for employers and line managers.
This new guidance includes a checklist highlighting key points to support discussions between employers and their employees who are covered by fit notes. It also provides a guide explaining the sections of a fit note to employers and some helpful case studies. The checklist looks at:
- Accommodations to help the employee return to work – encouraging discussion of any needed workplace modifications or reasonable adjustments to support employees in staying in or returning to work earlier than they might otherwise be able to.
- Statutory sick pay – where you are unable to make suggested workplace modifications, the fit note can be used as evidence for statutory sick pay.
- Maintaining contact with employees – maintaining regular contact as part of finding out when/if the employee feels ready to review workplace modifications or return to work.
- General requirements of fit notes – the name of the issuer, the profession and the address of the medical practice should be complete.
- Ability to request medical records – noting that the employee’s permission must have been obtained to request medical records.
A change to the current guidance is also expected later this year to try to make it easier for employees to obtain fit notes from secondary care providers (e.g. hospitals) instead of requiring an additional visit to their GP.
This guidance will be helpful to employers in understanding both the layout of fit notes and how to respond to them.