New legislation to allow a wider range of healthcare professionals to certify fit notes (formerly sick notes) has been introduced by the UK government to ease pressure on GPs. This legislation change applies across England, Scotland and Wales.
The list of those who can sign fit notes was extended on July 1, 2022, to also include nurses, occupational therapists, pharmacists and physiotherapists, reducing pressure on doctors, particularly GPs.
How Will This Affect Employers?
HR Team co-director, Breda Cullen, said: “By giving powers to more providers to legally issue fit notes, it should be quicker and easier for employees to prove reasons for their absence, making it a win-win solution for all.
“However, employers should take steps to ensure that HR and payroll teams are aware of the changes which are now in effect, and are provided with any necessary training.
For anyone who has been off work with illness for more than seven days, a fit note provides evidence to their employer about the reason for the absence and any relevant advice on supporting the employee to remain in or return to work.
“It will be deemed unfair for an employer to refuse a fit note which is provided by one of these newly authorised health professionals withheld. As a result, there could be a risk of claims regarding an unlawful deduction from wages, constructive dismissal and discrimination,” Ms Cullen added.
The extension of fit note certification follows changes made in April 2022 that allow for fit notes to be certified and issued digitally, making the process more efficient for employees, their employers and GPs.
They also deliver on commitments to reduce ill health-related job loss made in the government’s ‘Health is Everyone’s Business’consultation response.
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