Everything You Need To Know About Sick Notes

The subject of sick notes is not always easy to navigate. People often express keen interest in knowing many things about sick notes. Common questions include where the sick notes can be obtained, when they are needed, who can issue them, and so on. In this article, we provide comprehensive info on sick notes. That is on those issued by NHS doctors, as well as the private sick note and self-certified sick note aspects.

What exactly is a sick note?

We can best describe a sick note as a certificate issued by a doctor indicating that the holder’s absence (from work or school) was due to health issues. Another name for it is ‘fit note’.

Besides verifying that the holder’s absence was due to health problems, the sick note can also serve another purpose. It can indicate whether the holder is altogether ‘not fit for work’ or only ‘fit for some work’.

Is it mandatory for a doctor to issue a sick note?

No. Whether or not to issue the sick note is a matter at the doctor’s discretion. In case the doctor feels that your condition is such that you are fit for work, they may decline to issue you a sick note.

How do you go about getting a sick note?

Usually, to get a sick note, you need to consult a doctor. This may be an NHS GP. It can also be a private doctor. Even online doctors are able to issue sick notes.

What is the exact process for getting a sick note?

The process for getting a sick note has 5 significant steps. You need to:

  • Book an appointment with the doctor
  • Submit for whichever examination or assessment the doctor may need to carry out on you
  • Await for the doctors decision regarding your fitness for work
  • Obtain the sick note from the doctor (if they decide to issue it following the assessment)
  • Take the sick note that is now in your possession to your employer

Note that in some cases, written reports from other medics can be helpful in getting the doctor to issue you with a sick note. For instance, if you consulted another GP previously, and you carry the notes with you, those may be helpful. Similarly, if you were admitted to a hospital, and you present the discharge summary, this may help your case to be given a sick note.

What is the cost of a sick note?

If you are seeking a sick note from a NHS doctor, it may be available free of charge. That is provided you have had to be off work for more than 7 days on account of sickness. But what if the duration you have had to be off work due to illness is less than 7 days, and you want the NHS doctor to issue you with a sick note? In this case, you may have to pay for it.

If you are seeking the sick note from a private doctor, there is usually a cost for it. This can typically range between £45 and £60.

How do people go about obtaining private sick notes?

Private sick notes are obtained from private doctors. This may include online doctors. They can be ideal if the duration that you have been off work on account of illness is less than 7 days. Another case where they can be ideal is if you happen to be in urgent need of a sick note (that is, on short notice).

Is it possible for a doctor to issue a sick note that is backdated?

Legally speaking, it is within a doctor’s power to issue a sick note that is backdated. In practice though, some doctors may prefer sick notes based only on their assessments of the illness you currently have.

When is it necessary to obtain a sick note?

Generally, you need to obtain a sick note if you have been off work on account of illness for more than 7 days. If the duration for which you have been off work because of illness is less than 7 days, then it may not be necessary to obtain a sick note. However, there are organizations or institutions where some different rules may apply in certain cases. Therefore, it is best to check your workplace’s or education institution’s policy on this issue.

Besides explaining your previous absence, the sick note may also help while asking for more time off work/school.

Which specific sorts of things can sick notes help with?

People usually have great interest in knowing the sorts of things sick notes can help with. So this is where we find questions like on whether the sick notes can help with cases of bereavement, migraines, mental health issues and so on. We therefore need to address these aspects.

Is it possible to get a sick note on account of bereavement?

It is not really possible to get a sick note on account of bereavement. However, an employer may offer you compassionate leave in the circumstances.

Can migraines justify getting a sick note?

In theory, migraines can justify getting a sick note. However, most cases of migraines last for less than the 7 days for which sick notes are usually not required.

Can mental health issues justify getting a sick note?

Mental health issues can justify issuance of a sick note. In that regard, we are looking at issues like anxiety, depression, stress that is work-related and so on.

Do schools require sick notes for children’s absence?

If the period that the child has been away from school on account of illness is less than 7 days, a sick note is usually not needed. But you (as the parent or guardian) may need to write them a note, verifying that indeed it is an illness that caused them to be away from school.

Can you return to work before the period stipulated by the doctor in the sick note ends?

This may be possible, if your employer consents to it. But to avoid legal challenges, some employers may be hesitant to allow you to return to work before your sick note period lapses.

Do you get paid for the period you are away from work due to illness if you have a sick note?

One form of payment that may be available to you is Occupational Sick Pay (OSP). But this is discretionary and the policy on it may vary from employer to employer. Besides that, there is Statutory Sick Pay (SSP), for which there are more standardized rules.

Are you in need of a private sick note? Our London GP Clinic may help with medical assessment and subsequent issuance of that note.

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