Sick notes

Important Changes to Self Certification Rules from 17 December 2021 - 26 January 2022

Employees can normally self-certify sickness absence for the first seven days. Temporarily, they can self-certify for 28 days, to enable GPs to focus on the COVID-19 booster programme.

In order to free up GP capacity to focus on the government’s current priorities for the NHS of delivering the coronavirus booster programme and emergency care, employees will not be required to provide their employer with medical evidence of sickness absence for the first 28 days of absence. GPs will still be required to supply fit notes for periods of absence exceeding 28 days.

This change takes effect from 17 December, but applies to absences beginning on or after 10 December 2021, up to and including absences which begin on or before 26 January 2022. The self-certification period will revert to seven days for absences beginning on or after 27 January 2022.

Further information can be found at

Please read the statement above to see the latest changes to self certification.

If you’re off work sick for 7 days days or less, your employer should not ask for medical evidence that you’ve been ill.

If you’re off work sick for more than seven days, your employer will usually ask you to provide evidence or proof that you’ve been ill. They will normally ask for a fit note from your GP. Fit note is the informal name for the Statement of Fitness for Work. Fit Notes replaced sick notes on 6 April 2010.

The seven days include days that you don’t normally work. So when you work out how long you’ve been off sick, you should include weekends and bank holidays.

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.


Please note the guidance around self certification has changed. More information can be found at

If they started their sick leave before 10 December 2021, they must give proof if they’ve been ill for more than 7 days.

Self-certification forms

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 their own form, instead they may use an SC2 form from HM Revenue & Customs: Employees Statement of Sickness. Click here to download form SC2

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. 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.

Fit notes and how to get one

A fit note must be signed by a doctor, such as your GP. On the fit note, your GP can advise that:

  • you are ‘not fit for work’, or
  • you ‘may be fit for work’

If you need a fit note, you should contact your GP surgery. They 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 by your GP.

There is never a charge from an NHS doctor for providing a fit note if you’re off work sick for more than seven days.

Charges for fit notes

Some employers may request a fit note, for example, from employees who repeatedly take time off sick, even if, each time they’re off work, it’s for seven days or less.

For sickness of seven days or less, your GP surgery may charge you to provide a fit note.

Please ask at Reception for details or go to for more details.