Employers' views on the fit note

Occup Med (Lond). 2014 Dec;64(8):577-9. doi: 10.1093/occmed/kqu146. Epub 2014 Oct 16.


Background: The fit note replaced the sick note in 2010. The statement of fitness for work (fit note) is expected to benefit the British economy by helping more people stay in work and prevent long-term sickness absence. Understanding and responding to employers' views on the fit note is key, in order for this goal to be achieved.

Aims: To explore employers' views on the fit note.

Methods: A qualitative study was undertaken and face-to-face interviews were conducted with participants representing employers from a variety of industries.

Results: There were 21 participants who were mainly human resources officers and line managers. Employers welcomed the introduction of the fit note and felt that it was an improvement on the sick note. The majority of employers felt the fit note had the potential to promote an earlier return to work, if used properly. The main problems reported were the completion of the fit notes and quality of advice received from general practitioners. Employers felt that the most helpful advice came from fit notes with information on the functional effects of the medical condition. Some employers found return to work decisions problematic.

Conclusions: The fit note has the potential to promote an earlier return to work. In order for the fit note to achieve its aim, further understanding of the difficulties employers are having when making return to work decisions is important, in order to develop guidance to enable them to provide the practical support employees need to return to work sooner.

Keywords: Employers views; fit note; return to work; sickness absence; sickness certification..

MeSH terms

  • Attitude of Health Personnel
  • Certification*
  • Community-Institutional Relations
  • Health Status
  • Humans
  • Medical Records
  • Occupational Health Services / organization & administration*
  • Personnel Management*
  • Qualitative Research
  • Return to Work / statistics & numerical data*
  • United Kingdom / epidemiology
  • Work Capacity Evaluation
  • Workers' Compensation