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Dealing with long term sickness, part 2

In part 1 of this feature, we looked at how you deal with a domestic staff member’s long term sickness, but it is important to refresh our minds on the basics and how the rules, applicable since 2010, operate.

Going back to basics, are you aware of the rules regarding sickness, and a doctor’s note?

The old concept of a sick note from the doctor was phased out in 2010 and replaced by what is termed a “fit note”.

An employee only needs such a note after seven days of sickness absence and employers can ask employees to fill in a form when they return to work to confirm they’ve been off sick for up to 7 days.  This is called ‘self-certification’. Employers usually provide their own version of this form.

The fit note issued by a GP, or a doctor at a hospital, will state that the employee is either ‘not fit for work’ or ‘may be fit for work’.

If it says the employee ‘may be fit for work’, the employer should discuss any changes that might help the employee return to work (e.g. different hours or tasks).  The employee must be treated as ‘not fit for work’ if there’s no agreement on these changes.

The employer may take a copy of the fit note; the employee should keep the original.

The employer should make changes to an employee’s working conditions if they become disabled because of their sickness.  These changes are known as ‘reasonable adjustments’ and could include working shorter hours or adapting equipment an employee use at work.

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