Fit notes will be brought into effect from April 2010 and are a replacement for sick notes. The information that doctors will be asked to provide means that instead of giving patients a sick note saying they are too ill to work, they will be able to advise whether a person may be fit for work with some help and support, and what employers can do to assist in this process. Assistance could include a phased return to work, altered hours, amended duties or workplace adaptations.
According to the advice given on the Business link website:
“If a doctor uses this option, they will give advice about the effects of the patient’s health condition and, if appropriate, some suggestions about the types of adjustment or adaptations you could consider making to help your employee back to work.
While you won’t have to act on the doctor’s advice in a ‘may be fit for work’ statement, it may help you make simple and practical adjustments to help your employee return to work and reduce unnecessary sickness absence.
If for any reason you can’t make the changes necessary to support your employee’s return to work, you should – for sick pay purposes – consider the statement as if the doctor had advised that your employee is ‘not fit for work’.”
The initiative is designed to encourage employers to be more responsible regarding employee rehabilitation and aims to help reduce the impact of long-term sick leave.