Sick/Fit Notes

You do not require a doctor’s sickness certificate for any illness lasting seven days or less. Your employer may however require you to complete a self-certification form (SC2) which is available from your employer or on the HMRC website.

If you require an additional sick note for the same medical condition, your doctor may need to issue an additional sick note. You can request an additional sick note by filling out our Additional Sick/Fit Note Request.

Evidence that you are sick

If you are sick for more than seven days, your employer can ask you to give them some form of medical evidence to support payment of SSP, also known as statutory sick pay.

It is up to your employer to decide whether you are incapable of work. A medical certificate, now called a ‘Statement of Fitness for Work’ from your doctor is strong evidence that you are sick and would normally be accepted, unless there is evidence to prove otherwise.

You could also provide evidence from someone who is not a medical practitioner, such as a dentist. Your employer will decide whether or not this evidence is acceptable. If your employer has any doubts, they may still ask for a medical certificate from your GP.

Statement of fitness for work

The ‘fit note’ was introduced on 6 April 2010. With your employer’s support, the note will help you return to work sooner by providing more information about the effects of your illness or injury.

For more information see the DirectGov website, where this information was sourced.

What are fit notes

Fit notes are issued to patients by doctors following an assessment of their fitness for work. They may be shown to an employer for sick pay purposes or to claim sickness related benefits from DWP. They can be written by hand or produced by computer.

The department for work and pensions

Why we are collecting the data

DWP will use the data to inform policy development. We know that work is good for health and want to ensure the government can provide the right level of support when someone is unable to work because of sickness. We will also use the anonymised statistics to evaluate the new service, fit for work for employed people who develop health conditions.

How the anonymous statistics are produced

The Health and Social Care Information Centre (HSCIC), the NHS’s data centre, will receive anonymous data using software already within GPs computers. The software uses the information that GPs themselves have input when issuing fit notes to patients.

How the anonymous statistics will be used

Statistics derived from fit notes will be used to gain a better understanding of sickness absence across England in order that policy can be developed to provide support where it is needed most, helping people with health conditions to return to work earlier.

What data we will collect and publish

Data shared with DWP and all published data will be completely anonymous to protect patient privacy. The information will include:

  • How many computer-generated fit notes are issued.
  • How many patients are recorded as ‘unfit’ or ‘maybe fit’ for work.
  • Fit note duration.
  • Gender.
  • Health condition (less common health conditions will not be published to ensure patients cannot be identified).
  • Location, including Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) areas.
  • Whether workplace adaptations are recommended.

We will not be able to identify individual patients at any stage.

Additional safeguards to protect patient confidentiality

DWP analysts will only have access to anonymous statistics, not to any information that could identify a patient. As an additional security measure, we will group diagnosed conditions recorded in the fit note into more general condition descriptions.

Less common conditions will not be published to ensure that patients cannot be identified (for example less common eye diseases such as chronic conjunctivitis could be recorded under the more generic term ‘diseases of the eye’).

Who will collect the data

HSCIC will collect the data from GP practices in England on behalf of DWP.

Where we will publish the data

We will publish the anonymous statistics on HSCIC’s website.

Who will be able to look at the data

The anonymous statistics will be available publicly on the HSCIC website. No individual patients will be identifiable.

When this will start

We will start to collect fit note data from GP systems across England in January 2016 and will start to publish the data from spring 2016.

What data will be included

The first data collection will include fit notes issued from December 2014, but this will exclude data about patients who have objected to identifiable data about them leaving the GP practice for purposes beyond their direct care prior to the time this first collection is made. Data collection for any patient who registers an objection subsequently will be excluded from the point this is registered.

Where to get more information about the use of my personal information

Get information on use of personal data and the options available to patients on the HSCIC website

Additional general information

The Information Commissioners Office, the UK’s independent authority set up to uphold information rights in the public interest, promoting openness by public bodies and data privacy for individuals.

HSCIC, the NHS’s data centre’s pages about: