Sick/Fit notes (Med3)

Dear Patients,

Please be aware that you do not need to ask for a sick note (med3) until after the 26th January. You are now allowed by law (temporary covid) to extend your self certification from 7 days to up to 28 days, expiring on 26th January.

You do not need to ask the doctor up until 26th Jan for a note.  Your employer should not insist on one until after 26th Jan or unless your fit note extends past 28 days.

Please read the following from the gov.uk website:

https://www.gov.uk/taking-sick-leave

Temporary extension to the SSP self-certification period to 28 days and fit note easement for benefits

1. On 12 December 2021, the Prime Minister launched the Omicron Emergency Boost, with the NHS expected to offer every eligible adult over the age of 18 a booster vaccination by 31 December 2021.

2. In response to a request for all government departments to help release capacity in General Practice the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) has put in place two temporary changes:

  • extending the self-certification period for Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) from 7 to 28 days, by delivering regulations which come into force on 17 December 2021
  • applying an easement so that fit notes are not required for benefit purposes

3. Both changes expire on 26 January 2022 and are aimed to reduce the demand for fit notes in General Practice while the booster programme is ongoing. If individuals still have concerns about a health condition, they should be advised to see their GP as normal.

4. A bulletin has gone out to General Practice (Thursday 16 December) with the following information:

  • DWP are making legislative changes meaning that from Friday 17 December 2021 self-certification for sickness will be extended from 7 to 28 days for people accessing Statutory Sick Pay (SSP).
  • This means that there will be no requirement for a fit note to access other benefits including, but not limited to Universal Credit and Employment Support Allowance (ESA).
  • This time limited change will end on 26th January 2022. Further guidance on this will be available shortly.
  • Whilst we expect this to cover the vast majority of fit note requests, GPs may continue to receive some for access to occupational sick pay depending on individual contractual arrangements. DWP will issue guidance strongly urging all employers to be flexible and seek alternative forms of medical evidence if required at all during this period. GPs will still be required to supply fit notes for periods of absence that are longer than 28 days.

5. For any sickness absences which began on or after 10 December 2021, up to and including 26 January 2022, employees will not be required to provide medical evidence of sickness, such as a fit note, for the first 28 days of absence.

6. Throughout the pandemic, we know that many employers including LAs have been flexible about what, if any, evidence of sickness absence is required and have considered alternatives to fit notes wherever possible. We appreciate employers’ continued support in this national effort.

Annex A – Questions and answers: Extending the SSP self-certification period to 28 days and fit note easement for benefits

SSP

Q1. My employee is already off sick – can I ask them for a fit note?

A1. For any sickness absence which began on or after 10 December 2021, your employee is able to self-certify for the first 28 days. You cannot ask your employee for medical evidence, such as a fit note, until after 28 days of absence.

For any sickness absence which began before 10 December, you may ask them to provide medical evidence, such as a fit note, from day 8 of their absence. However, we urge employers to use their discretion about what evidence, if any, they require.

Q2. Does this mean I can’t ask my employees for any evidence at all?

A2. For any sickness absence which began on or after 10 December 2021, your employee is able to self-certify for the first 28 days. You cannot ask your employee for medical evidence, such as a fit note, until after 28 days of absence. You may wish to consider alternative forms of evidence. We urge employers to use their discretion about what evidence, if any, they require.

Q3. When does this end?

A3. This is intended as a temporary measure to quickly maximise GP capacity to support the coronavirus booster campaign. As such, this is a strictly time-limited change and will end on 26 January 2022. The self-certification period will revert to 7 days for any sickness absences which begin on or after 27 January 2022.

Q4. Can I refuse to pay SSP if I do not think my employee’s absence is genuine or they cannot prove it?

A4. Employers are legally obliged to pay SSP where the employee meets all the qualifying conditions. You may wish to consider alternative forms of evidence. We urge employers to use their discretion about what evidence, if any, they require.

Q5. Does this mean my employee doesn’t have to notify me at all to say that they’re ill?

A5. This change is limited to the extension of the self-certification period from 7 to 28 days only. Employees are still required to notify their employer that they are sick or incapable for work. This must still occur within the deadline set by the employer, or within 7 days if the employer has not set one.

Q6. What about if I pay above SSP – does this apply to Occupational Sick Pay?

A6. These changes apply to SSP only. We urge employers to use their discretion about what evidence, if any, they require for sick pay purposes, including under their own sick pay arrangements.

Universal Credit

Q7. Will a claimant with a health condition or disability need to seek medical evidence after 26 January 2022 to cover this period?

A7. No, a claimant will not be required to provide retrospective medical evidence. However, medical evidence for a health condition will be required from 27 January 2022.

Q8. How will this affect people with a health condition or disability who claim Universal Credit? What will they be expected to do to search for or prepare for work?

A8. There is no change to what people are expected to do. People who are claiming Universal Credit and have a health condition may be required to look for work and or, take part in activities to prepare for work if they are able, as set out in their claimant commitment.

Q8. Will this affect a claimant’s three-month waiting period (also known as the Relevant Period)?

A8. No. This period will run from the first day of self-certification. Where a claimant remains unable to work because of sickness, the relevant period will run from that day.

Q8. Will claimants be advised when they need to provide a further fit note?

A8. Yes. They will be notified when their existing evidence expires, or this period ends, whichever is latest. From 27 January 22, evidence will be required if a claimant remains unfit for work.

Employment Support Allowance

Q9. Can people apply for ESA without medical evidence to support their claim?

A9. People who are sick and unable to work can apply for ESA as normal during this period. There will be no requirements to provide medical evidence for benefit purposes between 17 December and 26 January 2022. Claimants will be notified in writing of the date they need to provide medical evidence from.

Q10. Will people need to provide backdated medical evidence for 17 December and 26 January 2022?

A10. No, there is no requirement to provide medical evidence for this period.

Q11. Do people who want to apply for ESA for a date before 17 December still need to provide medical evidence?

A11. Yes, this time-limited change only applies to medical evidence requirements between 17 December and 26 January 2022.

Q12. What about claimants already getting benefit – do they need to provide medical evidence?

A12. There will be no requirements to provide medical evidence for benefit purposes between 17 December and 26 January 2022. Claimants will be notified in writing of the date they need to provide medical evidence from.

Q13. What about people who want to claim as they have COVID?

A13. Eligibility for ESA has been changed so that people who claim for ESA because they are infected with COVID-19 or required to self-isolate [footnote 1] are treated as having Limited Capability for Work and are not required to provide fit notes.

Medical evidence and terminal illness

Q14. What action do I take If a claimant states that they are terminally ill, will they be required to supply medical evidence?

A14. A DS1500 is the quickest and most appropriate route to gather evidence to support entitlement in cases where someone is at the end of their life. People claiming under SRTI (Special Rules Terminally Ill) are not required to provide fit notes, so this temporary change in evidence requirements will not impact them.

Where it is not possible to supply a DS1500 in support of a claim for someone who is at the end of their life, we will continue to consider alternative evidence and work flexibly and quickly with the claimant and or, their health care professional(s) to make a speedy determination.

  1. These are people who are infected with COVID-19, or have been advised to stay at home and self-isolate in line with government guidance, or are caring for a child who falls in to either of those categories, and satisfy the normal conditions of entitlement.