Following consultation on its draft regulations to introduce a new statement of fitness to work (known as "fit notes") to replace GP’s sick notes last year (see Related Article below), the Government has now published its response
This sets out the following:
- the new “fit note” will differ from the sick note in that doctors will only be able to use either “not fit for work" or "may be fit for work taking account of the following advice”. The concept of "fit for work" has been removed. The revised wording is intended to facilitate ongoing discussions between doctor, employee and employer to monitor the situation and determine whether any adjustments could be made to assist the employee in returning to work;
- the new fit notes will specify the adjustments which employers could make to facilitate a return to work, such as using "a phased return”, reduced or amended hours, different duties and making adaptations to the workplace;
- in the first six months of an employee’s illness, a fit note will only be issued for a maximum period of 3, rather than the current 6, months;
- at this stage only GPs will be able to certify fit notes but this may change as the Government plans to issue further guidance.