How to get a sick note: A guide for employers

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Health Assured team

30 May 2019

It’s not uncommon to deal with employee absences due to illness in the workplace.

When staff members experience such ailments, they may need some time off work for treatment and recovery. You can’t control when they’re off ill or how long for.

If they’ve been off sick for less than seven days, you don’t have to ask them for medical evidence of their illness. You can, however, ask them to fill out a self-certification form to confirm that they’ve been ill.

When they’ve been off for seven or more days, you can request a sick note for work.

In this piece, we’ll explain these notes and the process of getting them. We’ll also include details as to what a sick note should cover.


How do sick notes work?

While most people still refer to them as sick notes, the name was officially changed in April 2010 to the statement of fitness to work.

It’s a medical statement from a GP or hospital doctor to a person in authority confirming an employee’s absence from work due to sickness.

So, how does a sick note work? After the employee contacts a medical professional, they’ll be assessed and determined whether fit for work or not.

It’s important to know how to get a sick note so you’re able to advise your staff correctly.

As well as explaining their ailment, the note provides you with an idea of the amount of time they’ll need off work and any reasonable adjustments required upon their return.


How to get a sick note for work-related stress

We’ve previously touched on the impacts of stress, anxiety and other mental health issues at work. Last year, it accounted for 40% of all work-related illness.

If you notice any signs of stress in the workplace, there’re steps you can take to reduce or eliminate it. These include:

  • Reviewing employees’ workloads to ensure they’re not taking on more than they can handle.
  • Supporting them with regular meetings and training.
  • Offering flexible working options to give them some control.

However, if stress becomes too much and starts to affect their health, they should see a doctor who’ll provide them with a work-related stress sick note.

If a member of staff is signed off work for this reason, depending on the result of a health assessment they may be eligible for ESA in a work-related activity group. A Sick note in this situation will need to be signed by a doctor before sending to the DWP.

This note is issued after an assessment from a hospital doctor or GP. The evaluation determines if the member of staff is ready to return to work. Expected outcomes include:

  • Fully fit to return to work.
  • Fit to return to work under certain conditions.
  • Not fit to return to work.

For employees wondering, “Can I return to work before sick note ends?” Yes, they can. They may return if they’re feeling better or if the employer can make the reasonable adjustments required to enable their return.

It’s not necessary for them to see their GP or hospital doctor unless otherwise stated. However, they shouldn’t return to work before the sick note ends if their doctor has advised that they stay off work for the full period suggested.


Sick note for work rules

These may vary depending on your organisation’s sickness policy. However, while the process may be straightforward for your staff, there’re some things that you need to keep in mind.

  • The employee handbook should include working on the procedure for reporting absences.
  • Your company policy must be clear and consistent. It should also include information about any pay your staff members are entitled to.
  • Making reasonable adjustments when absence is due to a disability.
  • They may qualify for SSP (payable for 28 weeks) if they’ve been off work for four or more days.
  • If you offer organisational sick pay, it shouldn’t be less than they’d receive on SSP.
  • Maintain communication to update them on any changes within the company—or just to see if there’s anything you could do to support them.

It’s important to remember, if you’re unable to agree on any of the recommendations needed for the employee to return to work, they may remain on sick leave for the period stated on the note.


Sick note template for work

The details that need to be included in a sick note are:

  • GP address and contact details.
  • Dates the note will cover.
  • Details of illness.
  • Recommended action.


Expert advice

If you’d like to find out more information on any of the topics mentioned in this article, please contact Health Assured on 0844 892 2493.

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