Sick Notes, Fit Notes and Self-Certification
A fit note is a letter from a Doctor, usually your GP, telling your employer you are not currently able to work due to your health.
The technical terms for a fit note is a Statement of Fitness for Work, but you will also hear them referred to as Doctor’s notes, medical statements or, most commonly, sick notes.
There is no charge to patients for requesting a fit note. However, in some circumstances where an employer asks for medical records to support repeated medical absences, this may need a private medical certificate that may have to be paid for.
When you are ill for seven days or fewer
Your employer should not ask you for a fit note if you are well enough to return to work in seven days or fewer. You should count the seven days consecutively, not just weekdays or days you usually work.
Instead, your employer may ask you to fill in a self-certification. Most workplaces will have their own forms for this.
Absences of more than seven days
In situations where you do not think you will be able to return to work after more than seven days, you will need a fit note from your GP or a hospital Doctor if you are receiving treatment there.
The note will tell your employer that you are not fit for work or that you may be able to return with some adjustments from your employer. Adjustments might include a temporary change or responsibilities or a gradual return to work with reduced hours.
Fit notes need to be signed by a Doctor. You may not always need to see them in person – a telephone appointment or online consultation may be enough, depending on individual circumstances.
The note will last for a specified amount of time, typically a week or two. You can go back to work before the end of the fit note period if you want to. If you still don’t feel ready when the note expires, you will need to contact your GP again to get a new one.
Self-isolation due to Covid-19
If you have to miss work because the NHS has told you to self-isolate due to covid-19, you do not need to ask your GP for a fit note.
Instead, you should get an isolation note from the NHS website and send that to your employer as proof you need to stay home.