Earlier this month, the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) published new guidance on “Fit Notes” for employers.
Fit Notes, having been in use since 2010, are used to record details of how an employee’s health condition affects their ability to work. They have been amended somewhat over the last 18 months, so that they can now be created digitally (without the need for a wet ink signature). In June 2022, the DWP also updated its policy to enable nurses, occupational therapists, pharmacists and physiotherapists to certify fit notes, in addition to GPs.
This new guidance now includes a checklist which highlights key points employers need to address with employees experiencing ill health which affects their ability to work.
The checklist covers the following:
- The fit note should cover the duration that the employee is likely to require adaptation or is unable to work.
- Maintaining regular contact with your employee throughout the period and get a sense of if/when the employee feels ready to review any workplace modifications or return to work. The checklist also provides a link to ACAS guidance on keeping in touch during absence.
- If access to the employee’s medical records are required, a reminder that the employee’s consent must be obtained.
- The name of the issuer, the profession and the address of the medical practice should be completed to make it a valid Fit Note.
The new guidance also includes some helpful case studies, which may help answer employers’ various questions around the topic.
Clearly, these recent changes to the guidance on Fit Notes have been designed to encourage employers to take a more active role in managing employee sickness absence, as part of the Government’s wider initiative to reduce levels of economic inactivity.
Handling employee sickness can be tricky to navigate for employers, particularly when an employee may be considered disabled for the purposes of the Equality ACT 2010. If you require any assistance with any sickness absence related issues, or in relation to employment issues generally, here at Glaisyers we have a dedicated team of employment solicitors who can assist.
Please don’t hesitate to get in touch with our team at [email protected].
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