New legislation will allow a wider range of healthcare professionals to certify fit notes. The change has been introduced by the UK government to ease pressure on GPs. This legislation change applies across England, Scotland, and Wales.
At present, only GPs can certify a fit to work note. However, from 1 July 2022 the healthcare professionals who will be legally able to certify fit to work notes will be nurses, occupational therapists, pharmacists, and physiotherapists.
This is the most significant change since the fit note’s inception in 2010. The change will support better conversations about work and health between employers and employees by making it easier to get this advice certified by the most relevant healthcare professional. This change will be delivered in general practice and hospital settings.
The change will also help reduce pressure on doctors, particularly GPs, while simplifying the process of issuing and receiving a fit note.
This change follows legislation changes in April 2022, which removed the need for fit notes to be signed in ink. This change makes it possible for eligible healthcare professionals to certify fit notes digitally.
Employees are required to provide a fit to work note to their employer after seven days of absence to communicate the length of the absence, reasons, and any relevant advice on how to support an employee return to work.
Minister for Disabled People, Health and Work Chloe Smith MP said “The extension of fit note certification is fantastic news for patients, making it easier for them to get the support and advice they need from the right place, ensuring where possible that they can remain in work. These latest fit note changes recognise the valuable role other professions play in helping manage people’s health, and I hope this will also help reduce unnecessary bureaucracy for doctors and general practice more widely.”
We are unsure how this will impact employee sickness records at this time, but if you do become concerned or have an employee whose sickness is unmanageable, contact us at the HRX and we can support you with the right advice.