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Should an Employee Provide a Fit Note to Return to Work from Sickness Absence?

THSP Employment Law Consultant - Andrew Wilson

By Andrew Wilson

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Should an employee provide a fit note to return to work from sickness absence?

The short answer is no.  There is no such thing as a ‘fit note’ per se, but this can be confused with a ‘Statement of Fitness to Work’ otherwise known as a MED3 certificate.

Where an employee is not well enough to work for more than seven consecutive days, or seven days in a 56 day linking period, and for the same reason, then they must provide their employer a ‘Statement of Fitness to Work’ that looks like this:

The MED3 will be completed fully by the medical practitioner. Firstly, determine if the employee is fit to work or not. They may be deemed fit enough to work but with adaptations. Secondly, understand if they need to see their medical practitioner again before returning to work. The Medical Practitioner should strikeout out either ‘I will / will not…’ on the MED3 where indicated.

Where it is determined that they can return to work on adjusted duties or because the period of the MED3 has ended, then have a ‘return to work’ meeting to consider any adjustments needed to facilitate their work. This is a form of risk assessment and should be recorded.

To ensure the meeting is structured, a review of their job description will act as a good checklist, consider:

  1. Are there any limitations you need to know about?
  2. If so, must you refrain from this task until further notice?

Providing that they can undertake their job without jeopardising their recovery and return to work.

  1. Agree what tasks can be undertaken without adjustment
  2. Agree what tasks can be undertaken with adjustment, that is defined
  3. Agree what tasks must be avoided
  4. Agree the time scale for review (i.e. 1 week)
  5. Agree the return date and time
  6. Confirm who they must report to regarding the return
  7. Agree which other employees need to be advised

What next?

At this time the employer must decide if the worker can return based on the information available. An Occupational Health report may be obtained to support this review, but there will not be a ‘fit note’ available to conclude if they are fit enough to return to work.

If the MED3 certificate has lapsed, but it is apparent that the employee is not capable of returning, then still carry out the Return to Work meeting. If you can demonstrate that they cannot fulfil their role tasks and obligations, through this form of risk assessment; a ‘work trial’ or test by doing the job whilst management monitor their capability, then direct them to return to their GP to seek an additional sick note (MED3) to cover the additional period of SSP.

Each individual case is different, so if you need any
Employment Law or HR help then call us on 03456 122 144.