Employment: Government reveals new “fit notes”

Posted on 6th January, 2009

Estimated reading time 2 minutes

The Government has begun a 12 week consultation on new "fit notes" which it proposes will replace GP’s "sick notes” in spring 2010.  This is in response to recommendations made in Dame Carol Black’s review of the health of Britain’s working age population in March 2008.  The consultation invites views on amending regulations to implement the new fit notes and is open until 19 August 2009.

Rationale behind new fit notes

In order to qualify for Statutory Sick Pay employees are required to obtain medical certificates to cover all periods of absence in excess of 7 days.  However the forms offer very little information that may help an employer rehabilitate the employee back into the workforce and comply with their statutory obligations to make reasonable adjustments for disabled employees.  It is also the Government’s view that modern workplaces are generally safer and less physically demanding as 100% fitness is not necessarily a requirement to work.

Proposed changes

The proposed changes are as follows:

  • GPs will have a new option to indicate that a person “may be fit for some work now”.  This will allow GPs to suggest changes which will allow employees to return to work earlier.  Neither employers nor employees will be obliged to adopt a GP’s suggestions.  The medical statement will still allow GPs to indicate whether employees are fit or not fit for purposes of benefits and sick pay;
  • the new fit notes will be standardised and computer generated, rather than handwritten.


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