New fit note rules add to businesses’ concerns over sick leave

The Government’s decision to extend the time period that employees can self-certify sick from seven days to 28 days has left some employers querying how to handle long term absent employees.

The change was introduced to relieve pressure on GPs delivering the Covid-19 booster rollout. For any sickness absences which began on or after 10 December 2021, up to and including 26 January 2022, GPs will not need to provide employees with medical evidence of sickness, such as a fit note, for the first 28 days of absence. Employers are now querying whether the suspension of the seven-day self-certification rule means that employees can take a month off sick with no doctor’s note.  This may in practice end up being the case because the alternative would be to ask employees to seek a private medical certificate, at the cost of the employer.

It is therefore more important than ever for employers to ensure that employees follow the correct absence reporting procedure, and to conduct return to work meetings after every absence.

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