Introduction to this document

Not fit for work acknowledgement letter

Our letter sets out the employee’s rights and obligations when on sick leave where they’ve been assessed as not fit for work, so there can be no misunderstandings. However, you don’t need to send it out each time you receive a statement of fitness for work from the employee - once is enough, unless the position changes.

Statements of fitness for work

When an employee is signed off sick by their GP, what you will have been receiving is what’s called a statement of fitness for work (often referred to as a “fit note”). The fit note allows a doctor to consider not only whether the employee is unfit for work but also whether they may be able to work with appropriate support from their employer if available. Where a doctor states the employee may be able to work, they must provide general information to support that statement. This could include advice about changes that could be made by you in agreement with the employee that would assist a return to work.

Fit note content

The fit note provides information on:

 the date the GP assessed the employee’s case

 their health condition

 whether they are “not fit for work” or “may be fit for work taking account of the following advice”. Where the GP considers the employee “may be fit for work taking account of the following advice”, they must provide further comments, including advice on the functional effects of their condition. If the GP considers it appropriate that the employee may benefit from a phased return, altered hours, amended duties or workplace adaptations, they should also tick the relevant box

 the period for which the GP considers the employee is “not fit for work” or “may be fit for work taking account of the following advice”

 whether or not the GP needs to assess the employee’s fitness for work again on the expiry of the fit note.

Under the scheme, the information provided on the fit note is not intended to be binding on you and it’s your choice how to act on it after discussing it with your employee. The intention is that you’ll only make any recommended changes if they’re available and have both parties’ agreement. The fit note scheme doesn’t change either your obligations to make reasonable adjustments for disabled employees under the Equality Act 2010 or to pay statutory sick pay under the SSP scheme.

Letter content

Where the fit note states the employee is “not fit for work”, our letter in reply acknowledges receipt and records this fact. It also sets out the employee’s sick pay entitlements and reminds them of the requirement to keep you regularly informed of their medical condition and recovery progress. Finally, it provides that, once they’re fit to return, they let you know as far in advance as possible of their return date.