Introduction to this document

May be fit for work acknowledgement letter

Our letter sets up a meeting with an employee where their GP has stated they may be fit for work if appropriate adjustments are made. Discuss the contents of the statement of fitness for work and possible options with your employee with a view to agreeing a return-to-work plan.

Managing fit notes

Where a statement of fitness for work (or “fit note”) indicates an employee may be fit for work and the GP has suggested ways of helping them get back to work, you should review the GP’s advice and then discuss the contents of the fit note and possible options with your employee with a view to agreeing a return-to-work plan. This is where our May Be Fit for Work Acknowledgement Letter comes in. It sets out what the fit note says by way of recommendations and then provides that you now need to consider whether you can implement this advice, or any suitable alternatives. So, it arranges a formal meeting with the employee to discuss the matter further and outlines what will be discussed at this meeting. Make sure you take a detailed attendance note of this meeting. Also, until the meeting takes place, the employee will remain on sick leave and should refrain from returning to work.

Return to work

If a return to work is possible, at the meeting you should agree a return to work date with your employee, any temporary work alterations, adaptations or adjustments that are to be made and for how long, the effect of any temporary adjustments on other terms and conditions of employment (for example, where it’s agreed the employee will return on reduced hours and a reduction in pay is agreed as a result), the arrangements for monitoring the employee’s progress and dealing with difficulties and finally set a date for review (see our Letter Confirming Temporary Work Alterations). You should also consider whether a specific workplace risk assessment is required. 

Unable to return

If, however, you are unable to make any alterations, adaptations or adjustments to help the employee return to work, you should explain the reasons why and agree a date to review the situation. In this case, a revised fit note isn’t necessary; the existing statement should be used as if the GP had advised the employee was “not fit for work”. Conversely, if it’s your employee who disagrees with your proposals to support them to return to work, ask them to confirm why they believe they can’t return to work despite their GP’s suggestions in the fit note and, if necessary, obtain a further medical report and/or advice from occupational health.

Warning

If you decline, without good reason, to make an adjustment suggested on the fit note that could have enabled a disabled employee to return to work, you may be in breach of your duty to make reasonable adjustments under the Equality Act 2010. Additionally, if you dismiss an employee (whether disabled or not) as a result of their ongoing sickness absence, your failure to make recommended adjustments set out on the fit note could contribute to a finding by a tribunal that the dismissal was unfair.