Sickness of seven days or less
Your employer can ask you to confirm that you've been ill. You can do this by filling in a form yourself when you return to work. This is called self-certification.
Self-certification forms usually include details such as:
- information about your sickness or illness
- the date your sickness started
- the date your sickness ended
These dates may be days that you don't normally work. For example, your sickness could start or end on a Saturday, Sunday or bank holiday.
Many employers have their own self-certification forms. If your employer doesn't have its own form, it may use an SC2 form from HM Revenue & Customs instead: Employee's Statement of Sickness (PDF, 53kb).
Sickness of more than seven days
If you're sick and off work for more than seven days, your employer will probably ask for proof of your illness. Most employers ask for a fit note from your GP. Fit notes may also be called medical statements or a doctor's note.
However, this will also depend on your employer's company policy on sick leave (or sickness absence). This policy should tell you how many days you can be off sick before you need to provide proof of illness or a fit note.
The seven days includes days that you don't normally work. When you work out how long you've been off sick, you should include weekends and bank holidays.
Fit notes and how to get one
The 'fit note' was introduced on 6 April 2010. With your employer's support, the note will help you return to work sooner by providing more information about the effects of your illness or injury.
A fit note must be signed by a doctor, such as your GP. 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"
For more information, including what "may be fit for work" means, see What are fit notes?
If you need a fit note, contact the surgery, who may advise you to make an appointment or book a telephone consultation.
If you're under the care of a hospital, your fit note may be issued by the hospital rather than your GP. If a hospital issues your fit note, it will always be a double-sided A5 handwritten fit note.
There is never a charge from an NHS doctor for providing a fit note if you're off sick from work for more than seven days.