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01st Jul 2022

New rules coming into force today make it much easier to call in sick to work

Charlie Herbert

New rules coming into force today make it much easier to call in sick to work

It’s hoped the move will see GPs carry out an extra 50m appointments a year by 2024

The government has introduced new rules that could make it easier for you to get time of work for illness.

From today (July 1) rules around who can give you sick note to hand into work have been relaxed, with workers now able to get a sick note from a pharmacist, physiotherapist, occupational therapist, registered nurse or hospital doctor.

Previously, it had only been GPs who could hand out sick notes.

The move is designed to relieve pressure off both workers, by making it easier for them to get a sick note, and GP surgeries.

The government website reads: “The healthcare professional needs to assess the employee’s fitness for work before giving a fit note.”

“Fit notes are free if the employee has been ill for more than 7 days when they ask for one. The healthcare professional might charge a fee if the employee has been ill for 7 days or less.”

But there remains no requirement for employees to give their employer proof of sickness from a healthcare professional if they are off work for seven days or less.

You can simply state you’re ill via a process of “self-certification.”

The website explains: “The employer and employee will agree on how the employee should do this. They might need to fill in a form or send details of their sick leave by email.”

Fit notes are only required if the employee has been ill “for more than seven days in a row and have taken sick leave.”

“This includes non-working days, such as weekends and bank holidays,” it notes.

It continues: “The fit note will say the employee is either ‘not fit for work’ or ‘may be fit for work.’

“If it says the employee ‘may be fit for work’, employers should discuss any changes that might help the employee return to work (for example, different hours or tasks).

“The employee must be treated as ‘not fit for work’ if there’s no agreement on these changes.”

If you need to isolate because of covid, you can simply go online and get NHS 111 to provide you with an isolation note.

You do not need to go to the GP or hospital to get one of these notes.

It is hoped that widening the range of healthcare professionals who can hand out sick notes will relieve the strain on GP surgeries. The government estimates that doctors will be able to carry out an extra 50 million GP appointments a year by 2024 thanks to the move.

There are also plans for improvements to the NHS app to make it easier for patients to chat with their GP online and manage their own records and appointments.

Health and Social Care Secretary Sajid Javid said: “Slashing unnecessary bureaucracy is key to ensuring more patients can see their GP quickly and get the care they need as we bust the Covid backlogs.”

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