From 17th December the government has introduced a temporary change to sickness rules. The timeframe for employees to submit medical evidence for a period of sickness absence will be extended from 7 days to 28 days. This measure is intended to free up more time for GPs to concentrate on delivering the coronavirus vaccine booster programme.

Under the usual rules a medical certificate should be provided as evidence of sickness absence for the purposes of sick pay after 7 days. This will be extended to 28 days for periods of incapacity that start from 17th December 2021 until 26th January 2022. It will also apply to periods of incapacity of up to seven days that commence before 17th December 2021.

So what does this means for employers?

Instead of requesting a medical certificate or “fit note” for the first 28 days of sickness absence, employees can be asked to complete a self-certification form. Where the absence is connected to self-isolation under Covid-19 rules, employees can also obtain an isolation note from the NHS website: Get an isolation note – NHS (

Get in touch for more advice on how to manage periods of absence under this temporary arrangement.