Sickness advice and sick certification

Fit-to-Work & Sick Certification

Covid 19 Sick Note

If you are currently off work ill due to Coronavirus - whether through self isolation for yourself or a family member with potential symptoms or if you are isolating because you have health issues that put you at-risk please download our Coronavirus specific sick note for your employer to use.

If you are off work for seven days or fewer you do not need a medical certificate from your doctor. You will however need a self certification form. These are available from the Post Office or Department for Work and Pensions (formerly the DSS). If you are employed you will need form SC2; If you are self-employed or unemployed you will need form SC1.

The seven days includes days that you don’t normally work. So when you work out how long you’ve been off sick, you should include weekends and bank holidays.

You can download form SC2 at  www.hmrc.gov.uk/forms/sc2.pdf

7 days off sick or less

If you're off work sick for 7 days or less, your employer should not ask for medical evidence that you've been ill. Instead they can ask you to confirm that you've been ill. You can do this by filling in a form yourself when you return to work. This is called self-certification.

More than 7 days off sick

If you're off work sick for more than 7 days, your employer will usually ask for a fit note (or Statement of Fitness for Work) from a GP or hospital doctor. Fit notes are sometimes referred to as medical statements or a doctor's note.

How to count sick days

When you work out the number of days that you've been sick, you need to count all the days in a row you've been sick, including days you do not usually work, such as weekends and bank holidays.

How can I get a fit note?

If you need a fit note, contact your GP surgery. Or if you are getting hospital treatment, ask for one from your hospital doctor.

Your doctor will assess you, and if they decide your health affects your fitness for work, they can issue a fit note and advise either that:

  • you are "not fit for work" 
  • you "may be fit for work taking into account the following advice"

Your doctor will choose the "may be fit for work" option if they think that you are able to do some work, even if it is not your usual job, with support from your employer.

Discuss this advice with your employer to see if you can return to work. For example, your doctor may suggest possible changes, such as:

  • returning to work gradually, for example, by starting part time
  • temporarily working different hours
  • performing different duties or tasks
  • having other support to do your job. For example, if you have back pain, avoiding heavy lifting

If your employer is unable to accommodate the changes advised by a doctor, then the fit note is treated as though it said "unfit for work".

Charges for fit notes

There is never a charge from a doctor for providing a fit note if you're off sick from work for more than 7 days.

For sickness of 7 days or less, your GP practice may charge you to provide a private medical certificate.

For example, some employers may request medical evidence from employees who repeatedly take time off sick, even if each time they're off work it's for 7 days or less. A fit note cannot be used for this purpose and a doctor may charge to issue a private certificate.

Getting support from Fit for Work

Fit for Work is a free service designed to help people who are off work due to sickness or in work with a health condition.

For more information on work-related health issues, visit the Fit for work website.

You can also chat online to a specialist adviser or call the helpline on 0800 032 6235.

If you’re off work sick for more than seven days, your employer will usually ask you to provide proof that you’ve been ill. They will normally ask for a fit note from your GP. A fit note is the informal name for the Statement of Fitness for Work.

If illness should cause you to be absent from work for a period longer than seven days, you need to book an appointment to see your GP and obtain a medical certificate confirming your illness and inability to work. This will ensure that you receive company sick pay or statutory sick pay (SSP) from the government. The only exceptions to this may be after hospital inpatient or outpatient treatment or for long-term sickness.

Coronavirus advice

Coronavirus