Introduction to this document

Self-certification of sickness absence form

Where an employee has been absent from work due to illness for seven days or less, you should ask them to complete a self-certificate form on their first day back at work. This should include a section to record the reason for their absence.


It’s important to keep proper records of sickness absence so that you can spot when an employee is taking a lot of odd days off sick. That way, you can take action when their absence record reaches an unacceptable level. It’s also a requirement of qualification for statutory sick pay (SSP) that an employee provides you with evidence of incapacity. For periods of seven calendar days or less, a self-certificate is sufficient. Use our Self-Certification of Sickness Absence Form. This ensures all absences of half a day or more are recorded, together with the reason for the absence. For periods over seven days, a statement of fitness for work is necessary.

Persistent absenteeism

Where your review of an employee’s attendance record indicates that they have a persistent absenteeism problem, don’t let the situation drift. You should:

 investigate the reasons for each absence and request a further explanation from the employee

 where the employee produces no medical evidence to support their absence, ask them to consult their doctor to establish whether there is an underlying medical problem causing the level of absence. Obtain a medical report if necessary

 if there is no underlying medical condition and the reasons for absence are unsatisfactory, then deal with the matter using your formal disciplinary or attendance procedure. As part of your procedure, give the employee the opportunity to make representations to explain the absences, tell them what level of improvement in attendance is required, the period within which that is to be achieved and what the consequences will be if there is insufficient improvement

 thereafter, monitor absence levels closely to see whether absence reduces to a reasonable level. If it does not, continue with your disciplinary or attendance procedure.

Although after a certain level of absence you can draw the line, there is no set number of days after which disciplinary or attendance management action, and ultimately dismissal, becomes fair. You must take account of the individual circumstances of the case and operate absenteeism rules reasonably and fairly. A failure to do this may make any subsequent dismissal unfair.