From Friday 1 July, a wider range of healthcare professionals will be able to certify fit notes. The government has made changes to reduce pressure on doctors (particularly GP's) and make the process more flexible and efficient.
Here's the detail:
Who will be able to certify fit notes?
In addition to doctors, occupational therapists, pharmacists, and physiotherapists will all be able to legally certify fit notes.
Does that mean that staff can pop to the chemist to get signed off?
No, fit notes can only be issued in a general practice or hospital setting. And, medical professionals will only be able to issue a fit note once they've assessed whether the patient is fit to work.
Fit notes can't be issued on request or via over the counter services.
Do fit notes still have to be signed and give the date the patient was assessed?
The requirement for the doctor to sign the form in ink was removed in April 2022 and replaced by a digital form which included the issuer’s name and profession. However, we are still going through a transition period and both the old and digital versions of the fit notes are legally valid while GP systems are updated.
Fit notes that are issued digitally will contain a bar code. You can scan the barcode using a QR code scanner so that you can add it to your sickness records.
Can an employee ask for a fit note as soon as they become ill?
No. Nothing else has changed. Workers can only request a fit note if they have been ill for over seven days.
Where can I find more information?
The government has issued a press release which you can read here. We also expect the government to update its guidance on getting the most out of the fit note: guidance for employers and line managers to reflect these changes.
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