Navigating Through Sick Notes

Navigating through sick notes, fit notes, doctors notes, med3s – whatever you call them – can get quite complicated especially if you’ve been fortunate enough never to need them. It can be difficult enough to jump through hoops to figure out if you need a sick note, why you need one or where to get one from at the best of times; let alone when you’re feeling unwell. Here’s a handy guide we’ve put together for reference.

Why do I need a sick note?

Sick notes are generally used to show your employer that you are unwell and need time off work.  They can also be used to advise your employer that you need a change in your working hours, work duties or adaptations made at work.  Other organisations such as colleges and Universities may also ask for them, particularly if you perform poorly or miss an exam due to being unwell.

How long do I need to be ill for before I can get a sick note?

Your NHS GP is only able to provide a sick note if you have been sick for 7 days (5 working days) or more.  If you have been ill for less than that, then you will be asked to fill in and complete a self certification/employee’s statement of sickness form available here.

What if my work insists on having a doctor’s note instead of a self-certification form even if it’s been less than 7 days?

Some employers do insist on a doctor’s note if you’ve been sick for less than 7 days.  For this, you will need a private sick note – something which MedicSpot can help you with.

Does my employer have to abide by what is written on the sick note?

No, the sick note provided by the doctor is classified as advice and your employer does not legally need to act on that advice.  However, that said – it is very rare that your employer goes against the advice of the doctor.

Do I need a doctor to provide me with a sick note?

Yes, it needs to be signed by the doctor – normally a General Practitioner (GP). If you have been in hospital, then you should ask the hospital doctors to provide you with one.

Is a sick note, fit note, doctor note and a med3 the same thing?

Yes, these are all the same thing.  The term “fit note” replaced “sick note” in 2010.  The main reason for this change was to try and get people to go back to work even if they can’t completely resume their normal duties.  Doctors often call these notes med3s, but their official title is a ‘Statement of Fitness for Work.’

Can sick notes be backdated?

Yes, doctors are legally allowed to backdate a sick note. 

How do I get a sick note?

You can get in touch with your own NHS GP to get a sick note.  However, if you need a private sick note if you’ve been off work for less than 7 days or need a sick note at quick notice, then you can book an appointment with MedicSpot.  Our online doctors can speak with you and email you a sick note the very same day.  There is no additional charge for sick notes or more detailed letters.