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Are you ready for Fit Notes?
There is a new medical certificate that GPs must use from 6 April 2010 when giving their patients – your employees – advice on whether their health condition affects their ability to work. The fit note gives doctors the chance to give employees and employers more information about how the employee’s illness or injury affects their ability to work and to make suggestions on temporary changes that could help them continue working.

If your employee is too ill to work for the stated period, the doctor will state this as they would have done in the old-style sick note. But doctors now have a new option, to indicate that the employee ‘May be fit for work taking account of the following advice…’ The form then invites the GP to tick whether the employee would benefit from one of a number of common adjustments which, if available and with your agreement, would allow the employee to continue in work or return earlier than would otherwise be possible. These would normally be temporary adjustments until the employee had returned to normal health.

They are:
• a phased return to work
• altered hours (which the does not always mean fewer hours);
• amended duties, or
• workplace adaptations.

The doctor also has the option to provide more information about what activities your employee can and cannot do and some of the things that could help your employee continue in or return to work.

What does the fit note means for you?
The doctor’s view is only advisory; you are not obliged to accept it. However, the fit note will have a significant impact on your policies and procedures. You are likely to need to adapt your sickness absence procedures to take account of it.

For example, you should consider how you will:

• respond to the advice in the fit note;
• consult with your employee about it;
• make sure your line managers do not ignore the advice if it is in your business’s interests to act on it;
• ensure that the fit note ties up with your occupational health support, if you have it;
• respond if the doctor signs the employee as unfit to work but you believe you could offer adjustments that would enable the employee to continue working, and
• amend your company sick pay and sickness absence procedures to accommodate the impact of fit notes.

If you need more advice on this aspect of managing your staff contact Cherington HR on 01684 594773.
Posted on 19 Nov 2016

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