News & Insights

Fit note

We review changes to the amount of time employees can self-certify their health.

As from 17 December 2021 employees only have to show proof of illness to their employer if they are off for more than 28 days in a row.

These changes have come into effect to allow GPs more time to focus on the accelerated Covid-19 booster vaccination programme and other issues that may come from the surge of Omicron cases in the UK. Absences of more than 7 days that started on or after 10 December 2021 are also included within this new rule.

It is usually the case that employers only have to provide eligible employees statutory sick pay (SSP) for up to 28 weeks as long as they could present a fit note from their GP covering all absences longer than 7 days continuous absence, so this significantly extends the self certification period. The requirement to provide SSP to employees who are away due to illness remains in place as the only change is the length of time they can be off before having to provide any evidence.

The 28 days is inclusive of weekends and public holidays and is likely to impact companies who offer company sick pay alongside SSP. Depending on individual company policies, employers may still have to provide this for the whole period that the employee has self certified.  In most company handbooks, it states that employees should notify their employers of any sickness as soon as possible and as such employers can still ask employees to self-certify their sickness or ask for evidence that an employee needs to isolate after being contacted by the NHS track and trace system.

Employees can use the free online service which does not require any involvement from a GP if:

  • They have tested positive
  • They have Covid-19 symptoms
  • They live with someone with symptoms or a positive test
  • They have been told to self-isolate

There are concerns that people may abuse the system but we are yet to hear any stories of this.