DWP issues guidance on ‘fit notes’ certified by healthcare professionals
New legislation came into force on 1 July 2022 which allowed a wider range of healthcare professionals to issue ‘fit notes’. See our previous alert here.
The Department for Work and Pensions has now issued guidance to support eligible healthcare professionals in ensuring they have the expertise and knowledge to certify and issue fit notes.
Guidance has also been published for employers, including what to do if they receive a fit note certified by a healthcare professional.
Why is this important?
The change in legislation recognises that, alongside doctors, other healthcare professionals (e.g. physiotherapists and pharmacists etc.) can play a vital role in delivering healthcare and support for patients. This change is intended to offer a more efficient and effective method to help people manage their health and wellbeing, whilst enabling them to safely remain in or return to work.
The guidance highlights the fact that incomplete fit notes can make it both harder for employers to support employees back to work and it can cause unnecessary delays. It is hoped that the new system will result in more comprehensive fit notes being issued, which in turn, should enable employers to take quicker and more effective steps to support their employees to manage health issues at work.
What should you do?
Employers may find it useful to review the guidance for healthcare professionals, as well as the guidance for employers. By reviewing both, this will give employers a better understanding of the process of issuing fit notes so they can support their employees to get more useful fit notes in the future.
Always be mindful of the risk of unfair dismissal, and particularly disability discrimination when managing absence/ ill health issues. You should take legal advice before taking any action against an employee who has been signed off work.
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