Workers will soon be able to be signed off from work by healthcare professionals other than their GP. From 1 July 2022, existing regulations will be amended to allow registered nurses, occupational therapists, pharmacists and physiotherapists to sign a worker’s ‘fit note’, the prescribed form of evidence for statutory sick pay and social security purposes. The change applies to England, Wales, and Scotland (but not Northern Ireland).
Government claims this update will enable patients to see the most relevant healthcare professional and have better conversations about work and health. The changes follow the introduction of digital certifying of fit notes in April.
From the worker’s perspective, it will be easier for them provide their employer with a fit note evidencing their sickness absence, which is a requirement under their contract of employment from the eighth day of consecutive absence (including non-working days).
Some believe that a benefit of this regulatory change could be that the wider range of healthcare professionals who can sign fit notes will lead to more detail being included on the note, helping employers make better decisions about supporting a worker’s return to work.