You do not require a doctor's sickness certificate for any illness lasting seven days or less. Your employer may however require you to complete a self-certification form (SC2) which is available from your employer or on the HMRC website.
If you are sick for more than seven days, your employer can ask you to give them some form of medical evidence to support payment of SSP (statutory sick pay).
It is up to your employer to decide whether you are incapable of work. A medical certificate, now called a 'Statement of Fitness for Work’ (see below) from your doctor is strong evidence that you are sick and would normally be accepted, unless there is evidence to prove otherwise.
You could also provide evidence from someone who is not a medical practitioner, e.g. a dentist. Your employer will decide whether or not this evidence is acceptable. If your employer has any doubts, they may still ask for a medical certificate from your GP.
Fit note is the informal name for the Statement of Fitness for Work.
Your doctor will assess you and if he or she decides that your health affects your fitness for work, they can issue a fit note and advise that:
- you are "not fit for work"
- you "may be fit for work taking into account the following advice"
Your fit note will show that this is the case:
- for a specified time, such as one week, or
- until a specific date
For more information, see What are fit notes?
Your employer's agreement
You will need an agreement from your employer if you want to go back to work before the end date on your fit note.
If your employer thinks it's not safe for you to return, you will have to stay off work.
Your GP's advice
You should not go back to work before the end date on your fit note if your doctor has advised that:
- returning to work would be unsafe
- returning to work would be bad for your health
Do I need a note saying I'm fit for work?
You do not need to see your doctor again to be signed back to work.
The fit note does not have an option to say that you're fit for work. If your doctor wants to assess your fitness for work again, they will say this on your fit note.
They may also give you advice on your fit note about how your health affects what you can do at work.
Going back to work
You do not need to be fully fit to go back to work. For example:
- your employer may agree to make some changes to help you return
- if your health condition no longer affects your ability to do your normal duties, you may be able to return even though you've only partly recovered
Below are some examples of changes that your employer could consider:
- returning to work gradually – for example, by starting part-time
- working different hours temporarily
- doing different duties or tasks
- having other support to do your job, such as avoiding heavy lifting
Depending on your job, you may need to meet other requirements before you can return to work. For example, DVLA rules will apply if you drive:
- a large goods vehicle (LGV), such as a lorry
- a passenger-carrying vehicle (PCV), such as a bus
Read more on GOV.UK about driving with a disability or a health condition.
Your employer will tell you if special requirements apply to your job.
Read the answers to more questions about workplace health.