From 6th April the rate of SSP will be increased from £96.35 to £99.35 per week. You may also see changes to the ‘fit notes’ given to you by your employees following a spell of sickness absence.

Fit note changes

A new version of the fit note has been produced which may be used in addition to the existing format. It will no longer be necessary for the fit note to be completed in ink (or another indelible substance) or to be signed in ink by the issuing doctor.  

When is a fit note needed?

If an employee is absent from work due to illness or injury for a period of 7 consecutive days (including non-working days), they must provide you with a fit note or ‘statement of fitness for work’.

The first 7 days of absence can be self-certified by completing your company self-certification form or they may complete form SC2 on the HMRC website.

What is included on a fit note?

The fit note is normally issued by the patient’s GP, hospital or healthcare provider. It will indicate whether the employee is:

  • not fit for work or
  • may be fit for work

If your employee may be fit for work, the doctor should give details of the level or type of work they are fit to do. Although fit for work in general, there may be some work they are able to carry out. For example a warehouse worker with a shoulder injury may be able to carry out light duties such as paperwork but must refrain from heavy lifting.

The doctor may give suggestions to support a return to work such as:

  • a phased return to work – returning on reduced hours and building up over a period of days or weeks
  • flexible working
  • alternative duties
  • making reasonable changes to their work station/environment
  • making changes to their working pattern

What happens if we can’t accommodate the changes recommended?

It is important to carefully consider the advice provided in the fit note. If you have fully explored all of the options and it is not possible for you to make the changes recommended by the doctor, the individual will be considered ‘not fit for work’ and they will remain on sick leave. There is no need to get a new fit note at this point.

Reasonable adjustments

If an employee is considered to have a disability as defined in the Equality Act 2010, you have an obligation to make reasonable adjustments. A reasonable adjustment is a change that removes or reduces a disadvantage related to a disability. This is applicable to employees when doing their job and also to those applying for a job with your company.  

Contact us for more advice to effectively manage sickness absence in your business.