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Advice For Employers & HR Professionals

Important changes to the Fit Note Regime from July

As of July 2022, the law surrounding fit notes and who can issue them has been updated by the Department for Work and Pensions. From July, they can be issued by nurses, pharmacists, occupational therapist and physiotherapists, in addition to doctors.  A new fit note was also released in April 2022 with different requirements to the original, however, both are valid for the foreseeable future.

Reasons for the Change

The main purpose for the change in legislation is to free up GP time across England, Wales and Scotland. This change is hoped will relieve the manic backlog of patients that doctors are struggling to get through. If an individual has the option of obtaining the note from a pharmacist rather than a doctor, chances are it will mean less of a delay for others in desperate need of a GP appointment.

The change may also provide individuals and employers with a more accurate and case specific note, which would be welcome. Although the revised notes do not take into account the employees’ role and duties on their given job, they do allow for a more specialised and personal opinion on their needs. For example, the individual may have been seeing an occupational therapist for a while or the problem may be one whereby a physiotherapist is required. In these circumstances, a fit note from those individuals will be far more insightful, particularly around recovery times, than from a doctor.

Impact on Employers

It is important that employers are aware of these changes and know the full range of individuals who can validly sign off on fit notes.  Rejecting a fit note and/or withholding someone’s sick pay erroneously, will have a detrimental impact on the employment relationship and, at worse, may provide the employee with grounds for legal claims.

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