How do fit notes work?

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Fit notes, sick notes, doctor’s notes… what they are and when you need one if you’re off ill.

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If you’re off work sick, you don’t need the added worry of working out when you need a fit note – or having to explain yourself to your boss. So here’s a quick guide on what to do when you’re not well enough to work.

What is a fit note?

Although most people still know them as sick notes, the official name when a GP signs you off work is a fit note! Confusingly you only need one when you are sick! They’re also sometimes called doctor’s notes or medical statements.

When do I need a fit note?

If you’ve been ill for less than 7 days your employer shouldn’t ask for a fit note. Instead, you can self-certify by completing a form that your employer should supply.

If you’ve been ill for 7 days or more consecutively you do need a fit note. Don’t forget that every day counts towards that 7 days – including weekends or bank holidays.

Seeing a GP for your fit note assessment.

When you see the GP, they will do an assessment of your health. They may decide you aren’t fit for work, or that you are fit for work – but only under certain circumstances. They might suggest that you can’t do certain tasks, need to limit your hours or require more help to do your job. However this still counts as unfit for work if your employer can’t or won’t accept those limitations.

Do schools need fit notes for children?

Schools should not request fit notes for children and it’s not a GP’s job to supply them. But a GP may be able to advise the school in relation to long-term health conditions.

Reviewed by: Asimah Hanif, Lead GP, Livi

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