From 1 July 2022, registered nurses, occupational therapists, physiotherapists and pharmacists can legally sign “fit notes”. These are the statements of fitness for work for employees who have been off work on sickness absence for more than seven days and need to evidence their absence to their employers. Before this, only doctors could sign fit notes, so the change significantly expands the categories of people who can certify employees’ absences. The new regulations implementing the change are the Social Security (Medical Evidence) and Statutory Sick Pay (Medical Evidence) (Amendment) (No 2) Regulations 2022 (SI 2022/630).
These new regulations follow changes in April 2022 that allowed digital signatures on fit notes and show the continuing desire to reduce the pressure on GPs and allow employees to consult the professional best suited to their needs without also having to see a doctor. It is important for employers to be aware of the change so that they know they can accept fit notes signed by a wider pool of health professionals.