Introduction to this document

Letter requiring statement of fitness for work

All employers can, and should, ask for evidence of sickness absence. For the first seven calendar days this is usually in the form of a self-certificate. Thereafter, you can insist on statement of fitness for work. Where this hasn't been forthcoming, send our letter which requests the documentation by return.

Sickness absence rules

For any period of sickness absence, you should insist on supporting evidence. When it comes to reporting requirements, there are no set rules (SSP payments, however, are slightly different). Most employers allow staff to self-certify for the first seven calendar days of sickness absence and thereafter produce medical evidence from their GP in the form of a statement of fitness for work - also known as a fit note. You can insist on a fit note from day one but a GP is likely to make a charge for it. This is usually in the region of £50-£75 and you will have to bear this cost - not your employee.

If an employee doesn't produce any medical evidence supporting a period of sickness absence, then their time off is technically "unauthorised". This usually happens in one of two situations, either:

  1. You've allowed the employee to self-certify for seven calendar days (or other period, e.g. three days) and no fit note is produced thereafter; or
  2. An existing fit note expires and a new one isn't produced immediately.

Unless such documentation turns up, you have the right to commence disciplinary action.

By return please!

In both cases, before going down this route, you should write to the employee requesting this documentation immediately. This can be done using our Letter Requiring Statement of Fitness for Work - it can be tailored to suit the individual circumstances. Always set out the dates of the employee's sickness absence; this makes it clear what period you expect the fit note to cover. Our letter does this and also highlights the consequences of any failure to produce the required medical evidence.

Finally, it's quite possible that their statement of fitness for work has been delayed en route. As a result, always make enquiries with the employee as to whether or not it was sent before taking a decision to commence disciplinary action. If there are any doubts over this, they should readily agree to you contacting their GP for confirmation that one was issued.