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Sickness Absence – temporary changes to evidence requirements

Date Added 11.01.22

In an attempt to relieve the pressure on GPs amidst the ongoing Covid pandemic and the vaccine booster rollout, the Government has announced a temporary change to the requirement to provide a fit note during periods of sickness absence.

What are the changes?

For any periods of sickness absence which were reported on or after 10 December 2021, or up to and including 26 January 2022, employees will be able to self-certify their absence for up to 28 days, up from the previous 7 days. For absences that last for more than 28 days, a fit note would still need to be submitted in the usual way.

How will the change impact employers in practice?

Whilst the change enables an employee to take a longer period of absence without obtaining medical evidence, given that most common illnesses are likely to be short-lived, it is unlikely that an employee will need to self-certify for the full 28 days unless they are suffering from a long-term or serious illness. With that in mind,  you can continue to monitor absences and consider commencing an absence management process if you have concerns.

It is important to note that employees will still be obliged to comply with any reporting requirements under an existing sickness absence policy, including the requirement to report in daily to provide an update on their health and their anticipated return. If an employee fails or refuses to comply then you may have grounds to commence a formal disciplinary process.

What do the changes mean for you?

As the change surrounding fit notes is intended to be temporary, it is unnecessary to update existing sickness absence policies at this stage. That being said businesses should continue to treat absences in the usual way and in accordance with the terms of any absence policy, save for requesting that an employee provides a fit note where they fall under the amended scheme.

If you have a question or would like further information regarding these temporary changes and how they could affect you as an employer… Talk to Tollers on 01604 258558 and speak to our Employment Team who is here for you.

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