Many employers are confused about how they should respond to advice from GPs on the new fit note.
According to Healthy Working Lives, the Scottish occupational health and safety advice service, while initial feedback since the launch in April has been “very encouraging”, one area of confusion has been whether or not an employee can return to work before the end date stated on a Med 3.
“It is important to remember that the fit note represents advice from a GP and is not binding on employers,” according to Healthy Working Lives in advice published in August.
“Therefore, if your employee agrees with you that it is appropriate to return to work, and you are able to support them to do so, they do not have to wait until the end of the period stated to return. This is unchanged by the fit note and was the case with the previous Med 3,” it added.
The key point of the fit note was to “initiate a dialogue” between employers and employees about their health condition and as a result help both sides take more control over the way absence affected an organisation, it emphasised.
“It also enables you to proactively support your employees, using the advice the GP offers as a guide, and respond more flexibly to the health condition. Ultimately, if used to its full potential, the fit note could not only benefit your employees’ health but also the long-term health of your organisation,” it said.