Employee who is ill or unable to do their work
As of the 6 April 2010 a new scheme has been introduced for employees who are off work illness or with an injury for 7 days of more – this scheme is called the fit note scheme and replaced the previous sick note scheme.
The Sick note
Under the previous scheme an employee would seek a letter from their doctor detailing to an employer the reasons for the employees absence and how long it is expected that they should be absent from work. This was done in the form of a handwritten note.
What were the problems with the previous system?
The previous system relied heavily on the individual doctor as there was no standardised procedure for the sick note it was simply a handwritten note which stated what was wrong with the employee and how long it is expected that they should be absent from work. There was no requirement for the doctor to specify if the employee would in fact be fit to undertake certain tasks of their job or return in a part-time capacity – it simply stated when they would be fully fit to return.
As a consequence of this many people were off work longer than they should have been as in actual fact they were able to perform some of their duties.
The Fit Note
Under the new fit note system a doctor will provide a patient who is absent from work for more than seven days on account of a medical condition with a computer generated statement.
What will be provided for in the computer generated statement?
The fit note should provide information on the condition suffered by the patient but it should also provide information on how their health condition might affect their ability to work and what adaptations or adjustments may have to be made to the workplace which could facilitate an earlier return to work.
Patient Not Fit for Work
When the doctor issues the medical statement they will be able to state if the patient is not fit for work or that he or she may be fit when taking into consideration the following advice.
If a patient would be fit for work when taking into consideration the advice of the doctor the doctor must provide additional information with which to support the statement.
A doctor is able to suggest the following adjustments which may facilitate an earlier return back to work:
A phased return back to work
Adaptations made to the workplace
For more information on:
- What is the maximum period of time a medical statement can last for?
- Can the doctor state that they wish to assess the patient’s medical condition after this time period?
- Will an employer be bound to accept the suggestions made by the doctor on the fit note?
- What happens if an employer refuses to accept the changes suggested by the doctor?
- What should an employer do once they have made the workplace changes suggested by the doctor?
- Will the new system improve the current problems faced by employers in relation to employee absences?