Certificates (fit notes)
If you require a Fit Note because you are unwell and unable to attend your work then the doctor will usually be able to provide this free of charge. All fit notes state the reason for absence from work or restrictions for particular tasks and the length of time you are expected to be off work. The doctor will normally give you a fit note when you are seen. In some circumstances a fit note may be collected from the surgery without seeing a doctor.
The First Week
If you are off work for up to one week you do not need a sick note from your Doctor, but you will need to inform your employer. This means you can either write a letter to your employer or, if you prefer, there is a form called a Statutory Sick Pay Form or Employees Statement of Sickness (form SC2).
Unfortunately, some employers insist on a doctor’s note for less than one week’s absence. If you need a sick note in these circumstances the doctor will charge a fee for a private certificate.
After One Week
Once you have been off sick for more than one week you may be required to obtain a fit note from the doctor.
If you have had no contact with a doctor you will need to make an appointment or speak to one of the doctors on the telephone in order to arrange a fit note. This is important as it is not possible to backdate a fit note if you have not already been seen with the condition causing your sickness /absence.
If you have a continuing problem then it is usually necessary to make an appointment to see your doctor when your fit note is due for renewal.
If you have been in hospital a fit note can be issued by the hospital doctor. Your own doctor is only able to issue a fit note once the relevant documents from the hospital have been received. In this situation it is not normally necessary for the doctor to see you in person.
In general, fit notes that are provided on another doctor’s advice can only be given for up to a maximum of 4 weeks sickness/ absence. When the fit note is due for renewal a review is necessary unless there is further correspondence from the hospital about the condition causing your absence or restriction of duties.
It is possible for a fit note to be backdated so you do not need to be seen urgently or on the day that your fit note expires or is due to be issued. It can be issued later and back dated at the doctor’s discretion providing you have previously seen or spoken to the doctor about your illness. If you are not certain that the doctor has evidence that you are ill, it is best to speak to a doctor.
Fit notes from the doctor are normally free of charge. However, there will be charge for a private certificate if one is required.