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.
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 (statutory sick pay).
Your employer can ask you to confirm that you've been ill. You can do this by filling in a form yourself when you return to work. This is called self-certification.
If you're sick and off work for more than seven days, your employer will probably ask for proof of your illness. Most employers ask for a fit note from your GP.
However, this will also depend on your employer's company policy on sick leave (or sickness absence). This policy should tell you how many days you can be off sick before you need to provide proof of illness or a fit note.
You could also provide evidence from someone who is not a medical practitioner, e.g. 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 - ’Fit Note'
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).
A fit note must be signed by a doctor but you don't always need to see your GP in person to get one.
It depends on:
- why you're off work sick
- whether your GP needs to assess you face-to-face
- if you've been in hospital
"Fit note" is the informal name for the Statement of Fitness for Work.
If you need a fit note, contact your GP practice. They will tell you whether you should make an appointment to see your GP, book a phone consultation or simply leave a message for your usual GP.
Your GP can issue the fit note on the day they assess you or at any time after the assessment.
If you have been in hospital, a hospital doctor can issue a fit note, as well as a certificate to confirm that you have been an inpatient.
You may already have seen another registered healthcare professional, such as a:
- occupational therapist
In this case, your GP can base your fit note on a report written by that registered healthcare professional. For example:
- a hospital discharge summary or hospital letter
- notes from a previous consultation with another GP at the same practice