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When Do You Need A Doctor’s Note For Work Uk?

Feeling unwell and needing time off work can be stressful. You might wonder if you need a note from your doctor to take sick leave. Our blog will guide you through when a doctor’s note is required for taking time off in the UK, making this process less confusing.

Keep reading to clear up any doubts.

Do I Need A Doctor’s Note for Work?

Yes, a doctor’s note is required if you’ve been ill for more than 7 days. You can’t self-certify beyond this time and will need to obtain a fit note from a healthcare professional.

Sick for More Than 7 Days

If you’re off work sick for more than a week, your boss will usually need a note from a doctor or another health worker. This note is often called a fit note. It shows that you saw someone about your sickness.

You get this note from doctors who know about your health problem. You don’t have to pay for it if you’ve been ill for over seven days straight.

Getting a fit note means visiting your family doctor or another medical expert who understands your illness well. They can write down what kind of work you can do, even with your sickness, or if you should stay home until you feel better.

This helps both you and your workplace understand what’s best for your health and job during this tough time.


Employees have the right to tell their employer they’re sick and can’t work without showing a doctor’s note. This is called self-certifying. They must do this within 7 days of falling ill.

They need to fill out a form from their employer or write down details about their sickness.

Self-certification is a straightforward process that lets employees notify their employers quickly when they’re unwell, ensuring everyone follows the proper steps for health and employment.

This basic step helps keep things clear between workers and bosses. It makes sure people get any sick pay they might be owed and keeps records straight for both sides.

Obtaining a Fit Note

Getting a fit note is simple if you’re unwell for more than a week. A healthcare professional gives you this note after checking your health and work situation.

  1. See your doctor, nurse, or physiotherapist. They can all issue fit notes.
  2. Explain how your illness affects your work. Be honest to get the best advice.
  3. Your healthcare professional might suggest changes at work instead of time off. These are called reasonable adjustments.
  4. If you need time away from work, the note will say so. It can also suggest lighter duties or different hours.
  5. Ask questions if anything is unclear about your fit note.

Make sure to keep a copy of the fit note for yourself and give one to your employer. This helps with sick pay and returning to work later on.

Doctors and other medical staff in both public services like hospitals and private practices can issue these notes after assessing you. This includes when mental health issues or physical conditions impact your job performance.

The NHS website has more information if needed. It’s good to know about sick pay rights and how occupational health can support you back into work when ready.

Finally, always follow up with your healthcare provider if your condition changes or doesn’t improve as expected.

Important Information

Returning to work after illness requires following proper sick pay procedures and obtaining medical evidence. Navigating the complexities of requesting a fit note is vital for ensuring your return is smooth.

Sick Pay

Employers must give statutory sick pay (SSP) to workers who qualify. If you can’t work because of illness, your job should provide this support. SSP helps when health issues stop you from earning as usual.

It’s a vital part of the UK’s health services framework, offering some financial ease during tough times.

The right to statutory sick pay is a key aspect of worker welfare in the United Kingdom.

Getting SSP requires action both from employees and employers. You need to tell your employer about your sickness within their set time frame, usually at the start of your absence.

Then, if off for more than a week due to illness including conditions like long COVID or recovering after hospital care, handing in a fit note from healthcare professionals such as doctors or physiotherapists is essential.

This medical certificate proves that you need time off for health reasons.

Proper Procedure for Returning to Work

Getting back to work after being sick can feel tough. It’s key to follow steps that help both you and your workplace adjust smoothly. Here is how to do it:

  1. Talk to your boss about your return. Discuss any advice or instructions that medical professionals gave you. This might include an occupational therapist’s suggestions if you’re dealing with a disability.
  2. Ask for a phased return if needed. This means you start working fewer hours and slowly increase them.
  3. Share your fit note with human resources (HR). Your doctor gives this note when they think you can go back to work.
  4. Plan adjustments with HR. Sometimes, changes at work help people with disabilities or health conditions do their jobs better.
  5. Keep communication open with your team about what you can handle.
  6. Check if there are new guidelines or roles in place since you’ve been away.

These steps aim at making sure everyone feels comfortable and supported as you transition back into work life after being sick.

Requesting a Fit Note

You might need a fit note if you’ve been ill for more than a week. This note shows if you are not well enough to work. Here’s how to ask for one:

  1. See your family doctor or a specialist if you’re receiving treatment in hospital. They can give you a fit note after checking your health.
  2. Tell your doctor about your job and what it involves. This helps them decide if you’re fit for work or not.
  3. Your general practitioner (GP) practice offers advice on fit notes. Check their website or call them.
  4. If you’re treated by allied health professionals like occupational therapists, they might also help in getting the note through secondary care.
  5. Explain how your illness affects your work to the healthcare professional. Be clear about any tasks you find hard to do.
  6. Ask if adjustments at work could help you return sooner. Sometimes changes in hours or duties are enough.
  7. Make sure the fit note covers the whole time you’ve been off sick, including days off before seeing the doctor.
  8. Keep a copy of the fit note for yourself and give the original to your employer as proof of your illness.

Getting this note is important for ensuring that everything is done right, from sick pay to returning to work safely.


Knowing when to get a doctor’s note for work in the UK is simple. If you’re unwell for over a week, your boss will likely ask for one. For shorter sick leaves, just tell your employer yourself.

Rules can differ at each job, so always check what your workplace needs from you. This way, you make sure everything goes smoothly both for you and your work while focusing on getting better.


1. When must I get a doctor’s note for work in the UK?

In the UK, you need a doctor’s note if you’re sick and off work for more than 7 days. Nurses, pharmacists, or allied healthcare professionals can also provide these notes.

2. Can my employer ask me for a doctor’s note before 7 days?

No, your employer shouldn’t ask for a doctor’s note if you’ve been sick for less than 7 days. For short illnesses, you can self-certify your absence.

3. What should I do if I have long-term health issues like cancer?

If you have long-term health issues such as cancer that affect your work, under the Equality Act, adjustments might be made to support disabled people at work.

4. How does being an inpatient affect getting a doctor’s note?

If you’re an inpatient in hospital care or dealing with social problems affecting your health, medical staff can provide documentation to explain your absence from work due to these circumstances.

5. Will having frequent sick days impact my job?

Frequent sick days might lead to discussions about your quality of life and ability to perform at work; however, harassment or unfair treatment is illegal and there are protections like pensions rights against dismissal solely due to illness.

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