Sick Notes: Do I need a signing off note?

The new Fit Note (that replaced the old fashioned sick notes a few years ago) actually has nowhere on it to say that you are fit for work!

The Fit Note is a recommendation to your employer. It is needed if you are off work for more than a week. If you are off for less than a week, your employer may ask you for a self certification note, which they can give you. Doctors no longer keep Self Certification Notes in stock.

The Fit Note allows us to say that we do not think you are fit for work. It also has a section that we can use to suggest to your employer changes they might be able to make to allow you to do some work, such as: temporarily reduce your hours, or make adaptations to your workspace, or the work you do.

At the bottom of the form, it asks us how long we think this is likely to be valid for. If you need to be off work for longer than we have said, you will need to ask us for an extension.

If you are ready to return to work when the Fit Note runs out, you simply need to return to work without a signing off note, unless we have specifically said that we want to assess you first.

However, the really new feature of the Fit Notes is that you can go back to work earlier than stated on the form, if you feel fit enough before it runs out. You do not need to ask us first and you certainly do not need a signing off note.

Some employers still demand a signing off note. Usually this is because the message about the new fit notes has not filtered through. In these cases, we would suggest that they look at “Statement of Fitness for Work: a guide for employers” available from the Department of Work and Pensions website. If an employer still insists one, unfortunately the only way is to do a private letter stating you are fit for work, for which we make a small charge to cover our administrative costs.