Illness or absence less than 7 days

You do not require a doctor’s sickness certificate for any illness lasting seven days or less. Your employer may however require you to complete a self-certification form (SC2) which is available from your employer or on the HMRC website (

Illness or absence more than 7 days

If you are sick for more than seven days, your employer can ask you to give them some form of medical evidence to support payment of SSP (statutory sick pay). This is done using a medical certificate, now called a ‘Statement of Fitness for Work’ (also called a ‘fit note’) from a doctor, dentist or hospital.

The ‘fit note’ was introduced on 6 April 2010. With your employer’s support, the note will help you return to work sooner by providing more information about the effects of your illness or injury. For more information see the DirectGov website (


Returning to work – including within the period covered by the fit note.

It is a common myth that employees have to be “signed fit” by their GP to go back to work. This is not needed. You should go back to work as soon as you feel able to and with your employer’s agreement – this may be before your fit note runs out. You do not need to go back to see your doctor before going back to work. Your doctor cannot give you a fit note stating that you are ‘fit for work’. If an employer needs support to help you they should do this by arranging their own occupational health assessment. You may like to point them towards this Government document if they need more information:

For a small number of jobs there are separate processes to ensure it is safe for you to return. If this applies to you, your employer will tell you. You do not need a fit note to cover this period while you wait for your employer’s assessment and your doctor will not be able to issue further fit notes to cover it.