There is often misunderstanding about sick certification, and this handout is intended to help patients appreciate the legal situation concerning the provision of certificates of absence from work.
These rules are laid down by government and we are obliged to follow them.
Absences lasting less than seven days
You are legally allowed up to seven days absence from work for sickness without a doctor's note, and we cannot issue a certificate for absences shorter than this time. This legislation was introduced to prevent appointments, which are meant to be used for sick people, being abused by employers. It does not matter if you have been on holiday during, before or after the period of sickness, or if two periods of sickness are close together, you can still use the self certification process for short periods of absence.
If an employer feels that an employee is abusing the system, this needs to be sorted out through the company's disciplinary system, perhaps with the help of an occupational health physician. If they require further details from us about periods of absence, they must request this from us in writing with your written consent for release of that information, and a fee will be charged to the company for such a report.
Longer periods of absence, where your care is at this surgery.
The doctor seeing you will issue you with an NHS certificate if we recommend that, because you are ill, you cannot manage your job. If you're not currently in employment, we can only issue you with a certificate if you are so ill that you cannot do any work at all. We can only issue one certificate at a time, and duplicates cannot be provided, even if you have more than one job. If you are unable to work for more than six months, you will be asked to attend government employed doctors who will assess your ability to work. Once they have made their decision, we are no longer able to provide certification.
Longer periods of absence, where your care is hospital based
In general, the doctor responsible for your care should provide you with sick notes. If you are attending outpatients, or are going into hospital, please ask them for a sick certificate, and make sure that it lasts for an appropriate length of time. If you have not been seen by a doctor at the Hedon Group Practice, we can legally only provide certificates in two specific circumstances.
1. When we have seen you recently with the same illness
2. When we have a written report from another doctor concerning that illness, and that report was completed within the last 28 days.
Other particular problems
Legally, a sick certificate can only be provided for the person who is sick. Unfortunately it is not possible for us to supply a certificate for someone who cannot attend work, but is not themselves unwell; these circumstances need to be addressed through the compassionate leave arrangements within your contract of employment. We cannot supply a sick certificate for someone to care for somebody else, or for such circumstances as a family bereavement.
We are also unable to supply NHS certificates for any other purpose apart from statutory sick pay. Organisations such as schools, golf clubs, insurance companies, or gyms sometimes ask for notes to certify sickness, these can only be provided on a private basis, and the reception staff have a detailed list of our current fees.