New fit note system
On 6 April a new regime was implemented where the medical statement procedure changed from sick notes to the much anticipated statement of fitness to work (known as “fit notes”). The changes came into effect via the imaginatively titled: Social Security (Medical Evidence) and the Statutory Sick Pay (Medical Evidence) (Amendment) Regulations 2010.
The DWP has produced two guides: one for employers and another for GP’s, and other doctors. That guidance has been created by the DWP with the following: RCGP, BMA, CBI, ACAS, FSB, CIPD, ABI, BRC and EEF, the manufacturers’ organisation. ACAS has also issued guidance on the procedure.
This note considers the implications of the new regime, the DWP guidance, and offers practical tips to help HR professionals, and employers.
The new fit note system will mean that doctors can advise that the employee is either:
1. Not fit for work – this means that the doctor’s assessment of the employee is that they have a health condition that prevents them from working for a stated period of time.
2. May be fit for work taking account of the following advice – this means the doctor’s assessment of the employee is that their condition does not necessarily stop them from returning to work. This could include a recommendation of one of the following: phased return to work, altered hours, amended duties, or, work place adaptations.
• The removal of the fit for work option
• A new option for a doctor to advise if an employee may be fit for work with some support
• More space for a doctor to provide information on how the employee’s condition will affect what they do
• Helpful tick boxes for doctors to use to suggest common ways to help a return to work.
There is a helpful flow chart, on page 13 of the employer’s guidance, which sets out what to do upon receipt of a fit for work statement.