If you’re off work sick for seven days or fewer, your employer should not ask for medical evidence that you’ve been ill.
If you’re off work sick for more than seven days, your employer will usually ask you to provide proof that you’ve been ill. They will normally ask for a fit note from your GP. A fit note is the informal name for the Statement of Fitness for Work.
The seven days includes days that you don’t normally work. So when you work out how long you’ve been off sick, you should include weekends and bank holidays.
Sickness of seven days or fewer
Your employer can ask you to confirm that you’ve been ill. You can do this by filling in a form yourself when you return to work. This is called self-certification.
Self-certification forms usually include details such as:
- information about your sickness or illness
- the date your sickness started
- the date your sickness ended
These dates may be days that you don’t normally work. For example, your sickness could start or end on a Saturday, Sunday or bank holiday.
Many employers have their own self-certification forms. If your employer doesn’t have its own form, instead it may use an SC2 form from HM Revenue & Customs PDF (53 KB).
Sickness of more than seven days
If you’re sick and off work for more than seven days, your employer will probably ask for proof of your illness. Most employers ask for a fit note from your GP.
However, this will also depend on your employer’s company policy on sick leave (or sickness absence). This policy should tell you how many days you can be off sick before you need to provide proof of illness or a fit note.
Fit notes and how to get one
A fit note must be signed by a doctor, for example, your GP. On the fit note, your GP can advise that:
- you are ‘not fit for work’
- you ‘may be fit for work’
For more information, including what ‘may be fit for work’ means, see What are fit notes?
If you need a fit note, contact your GP surgery. They may advise you to make an appointment or book a telephone consultation.
From early July 2012, your GP may start to give you a computer-completed fit note, rather than handwritten fit note. This will be printed on one side of A4 paper and will include the same information as handwritten fit notes, presented side by side rather than front and back.
Your GP may still give you a handwritten fit note, for example, during home visits or until their IT system has been upgraded.
If you’re under the care of a hospital, your fit note may be issued by the hospital, rather than by your GP. If a hospital issues your fit note, it will always be a double-sided A5 handwritten fit note.
There is never a charge from an NHS doctor for providing a fit note if you’re off sick from work for more than seven days.
Charges for fit notes
Some employers may request a fit note, for example, from employees who repeatedly take time off sick, even if each time they’re off work it’s for seven days or fewer.
For sickness of seven days or fewer, your GP practice may charge you to provide a fit note. Your GP surgery can give you more information about what their charges are.
GOV.UK - Taking sick leave
Last Updated: 17 January 2014