Sick notes change to Fit notes from April 2010

What is the fit note?

The Statement of Fitness for Work, or 'fit note', is a new Medical Statement that GPs will issue from 6 April 2010. It replaces the old 'sick note' and aims to focus on what an employee may be able to do at work rather than what they cannot do.

What's different about the new fit note?

In the past GPs have either said that 'you should refrain from work' or 'you need not refrain from work'. The fit note offers a new option - 'may be fit for work taking account of the following advice'. A GP will be able to suggest ways of helping an employee get back to work.

This might mean discussing:

  • a phased return to work

  • flexible working

  • amended duties

  • workplace adaptations

The GP will also provide general details of the functional effect of the individual's condition.

Why the change?

For many employees work means a lot more than just their salary. Studies show that work is good for health; and prolonged sickness absence can produce its own set of problems, such as:

  • isolation

  • loss of confidence

  • mental health issues

  • de-skilling

  • social exclusion

Many employers recognise that reducing levels of long-term ill health is about developing a partnership between the line manager, the individual, the GP, occupational health and the HR department.

What do I do now?

What further support is available?

The DWP have provided further guidance for GPs, HR professionals, payroll managers, employers and employees. For more information visit the DWP website at

NHS - What are fit notes?
Working for Health - Reforming the Medical Statement

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