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Fit notes

15 July 2009

The government is to scrap the ‘sick note’ that GPs have used for 60 years to sign people off work. Sick notes are to be replaced by electronic ‘fit notes’, allowing doctors to advise that their patients ‘may be fit for work’ and saying what work they can or cannot do.

The current sick note system requires GPs to make a decision as to whether their patient should or should not work and for how long. The new fit note will allow them to indicate that an individual may be fit for some work if the workplace and/or duties can be temporarily amended. So for example, an employee with back pain might be able to return to work earlier if they were excused from bending or lifting while they recover.

The government is currently carrying out a consultation on the new scheme, which is likely to be introduced next spring.


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