New legislation comes into force today (July 1) to allow a wider range of healthcare professionals – not just GPs – to issue a sick note when someone is feeling unwell and unable to work.
Abigail Maino is a partner in the employment team at law firm DMH Stallard.
“The ability for other healthcare professionals to issue fit notes is likely to be a welcome introduction given the well-publicised pressures on GP services, which has made obtaining fit notes challenging for some employees.
“Fit notes are not solely designed to confirm an employee is unfit to work; they can suggest appropriate support and adjustments to enable the employee to remain in or return to work. In practice, suggestions for support or adjustments are uncommon.
“If employees are able to receive an assessment from a more specialist healthcare professional such as a physiotherapist, then it would be hoped that more tailored advice can be given in via the fit note, reducing the time an employee is absent.
“Whether this will happen in practice remains to be seen, as employees are still likely to contact their GP in the first instance for a fit note.
“From a practical perspective, employers should check the wording of any relevant policies on the requirement to produce a fit note and inform relevant individuals across the business of the change.”