On April 6th 2010, the new ‘Fit Note’ will replace the ‘Sick Note’. In this document, Park City have listed employers’ frequently asked questions, the key differences between the old and new system and importantly, how the new fit notes will impact on your business:
Q. What is changing? What is the difference between a sick note and the new fit note?
A. The sick note, in use until the 6th April 2010 allowed doctors to state whether an employee ‘Should’ or ‘Should Not’ work. In contrast, the fit note will allow doctors to state whether an employee is either ‘Unfit for work’ or ‘May be fit for work taking account of the following advice'. Changes to the form will also allow a doctor to provide more information on your employee’s condition and how they might be able to return to work.
Q. What do the two options available to GPs on the form mean?
A. Unfit for work – This is just like on the old ‘sick note’ where the doctor advises your employee to “refrain from work”. The doctor’s assessment of your employee is that they have a health condition that prevents them from working for the stated period of time.
May be fit for work taking account of the following advice – The doctor’s assessment of your employee is that their condition does not necessarily stop them from returning to work. That is, they could return to work but may not be able to complete all of their normal duties, or they could benefit from amended working hours.
Importantly, if you are not able to provide the support for your employee to return to work, you and your employee should use this statement as if the doctor had advised ‘not fit for work’. Your employee does not need to return to their doctor for a new fit note to confirm this.
To summarise, the main changes are:
Q. What options are available to Doctors if they think that an employee could return to work?
A. If a doctor decides that an employee could return to work, they may suggest the following advice to you and your employee:
The doctor may also provide written comments on the form offering a more detailed view of the kind of options that your company could implement that may help the employee return to work.
Q. Is anything staying the same?
A. Yes, there are a few important points that remain the same from the 6th April:
Q. Is the Doctor’s advice on the Fit Note binding to me, the employer?
A. The advice given by the GP is not binding. It is up to you, the employer, to decide how to act on the GPs advice. The Fit Note has been designed to encourage GPs to think about an employee’s ability to work and then provide the employee with information to discuss with you, their employer.
Q. How will the Fit Note help my business?
A. The fit note will allow the employee to continue in work, to aid their recovery from sickness and will provide benefit to you, the employer, as it will reduce sickness absence.
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