Fit notes

Topic Index
Not fit for work
May be fit for work
Fit for work
How to respond to a 'may be fit for work' note
Returning to work
How to handle disagreements
Employer's liability
Employees with disabilities
Sick pay


  • Caroline Carter, Head of the Employment Group at Ashurst LLP, sets out below the key issues and key aspects of procedure when dealing with the ‘fit note’ which replaced the old ‘sick note on 6 April 2010.
  • The intention is to help more people get back to work, by allowing the doctor to suggest measures which the employer could take to support the employee.
  • The fit note envisages more consultation between the employer and the employee, in terms of managing the employee’s health as well as their return to work.
  • The information on the fit note is intended as advice to the patient: it is not binding on employers, and is not a substitute for consultation with the employee.
  • In essence the fit note operates in much the same way as the old sick note, and for the same purpose. It remains evidence for why an employee cannot work due to illness or injury, for instance for determining entitlement to statutory sick pay (SSP).
  • One of the main changes is the options which a doctor has for certifying the employee. Instead of the old options of ‘fit for work’ and ‘not fit for work’, the doctor can certify the employee as ‘not fit for work’ or ‘may be fit for work’.


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