One of my employees hasn’t provided a doctor’s certificate or ‘fit note’, but he has been absent for 8 days now. I don’t want to pay him anything until I know his absence is genuine. What can I do?
It is for an employer to set rules for employees regarding what they are expected to provide as evidence of incapacity for work and when they have to provide it.
Most employers accept self-certification of absence for up to 8 days of absence. This can either be verbally, by letter or by a self-certification form. Most employers choose to require their employees to complete a form.
For absences of 8 days or longer, employers can ask for medical evidence or a ‘fit note’ to support payment of SSP. However, it is not lawful to withhold SSP if the employee does not provide medical evidence in time. This might be because they are too ill to get to the doctor or because their illness has unexpectedly lasted longer and they have only just been able to get an appointment.
Where employers offer company sick pay over and above Statutory Sick Pay, they are entitled to apply their own rules to any company sick pay. Of course, any rules need to be applied fairly and in a non-discriminatory way, but it is possible to have a rule to withhold company sick pay if no evidence of incapacity has been provided.
A member of staff has had intermittent absence over the past few years with a back problem. They have recently had a fortnight off and have provided us with a certificate from an osteopath. I’m not happy about this as I’d prefer a proper fit note from the GP – what should I do?
It is up to you whether you accept certificates from someone who is not a registered medical practitioner – you need to judge them on their merits. If you have doubts then you can still ask for a doctor’s fit note – but if the employee has now returned and if you don’t doubt the genuineness of the absence then you could decide to accept it if you wish.
If you would like to talk through a sickness absence situation you are dealing with, please contact any member of the Pure Employment Law team (01243 836840 or [email protected]).