Issuing of Fit Notes (previously medical certificates)
If you are absent from work or unable to seek work due to sickness you may be asked by your employer or the benefits office to obtain a certificate from the doctor confirming that you are suffering from a condition that affects your ability to work. There are national regulations about these certificates that we are obliged to follow, these are explained in detail on nhschoices web site.
In brief doctor's certificates are only issued for absences of 7 or more consecutive days. Certificates cannot be issued in advance of their due date but can on occasion be back dated if there is information to support incapacity on that date. By signing a certificate the GP is confirming that you are unfit at that time and would expect to continue to be sick for the period that the certificate relates to.
Shorter absences maybe covered with a self certificate, form SC2 available from your employer or maybe downloaded from http://www.hmrc.gov.uk/forms/sc2.pdf
To be able to do this they need either evidence from another health provider e.g. discharge summary from a hospital stay, or to see or speak to you in person. It is not always necessary to make an appointment for a certificate.
The GP will work with you to enable you to return to work as soon as possible as there is a lot of evidence that extended absences from work are bad for your health and the new fit notes provide space for recommendations to your employer about how they can help you return to work in ways that will enable you to recover more quickly from your illness.
The GP may also refer you to a support agency 'Fit for Work' who can help with advice and interventions that will speed your recovery and enable you to get back into employment without unnecessary delay.
You need to ensure that you request follow on certificates when they are due, be aware that the GP will need to talk with you and allow time for the certificate to be issued.
GPs do not issue certificates to verify school absence. Please refer to attached downloadable letter should your school ask you to obtain any such documentation. Summary of Guidance for Schools and GPs for Managing Sickness Absence in Schools.pdf