What are fit notes?

A fit note (or Statement of Fitness for Work) allows your doctor or other healthcare professional to give you more information on how your condition affects your ability to work. This will help your employer understand how they might help you return to work sooner or stay in work.

Fit notes may also be called medical statements or a doctor’s note.

How does a fit note work?

Your doctor can give you advice on returning to work or staying in work. This is because work can play an important role in helping people recover from illness or injury.

Your doctor will assess you, and if they decide that your health affects your fitness for work, they can issue a fit note and advise that:

  • you "may be fit for work, taking into account the following advice"
  • you "may be fit for work"

The fit note also includes:

  • more space for your doctor to give general advice about how your illness or injury affects you
  • tick boxes for your doctor to suggest, where appropriate, ways in which your employer could support your return to work

What does ‘may be fit for work’ mean?

Your doctor will choose the "may be fit for work" option if they think that returning to work – with support from your employer – will help you recover. They can give general advice on the fit note about how your illness or injury may affect your ability to work. Discuss this advice with your employer to see if you can return to work. For example, your doctor may suggest possible changes, such as:

  • returning to work gradually – for example, by starting part-time
  • temporarily working different hours
  • performing different duties or tasks
  • having other support to do your job – for example, if you have back pain, avoiding heavy lifting

Getting advice and support

Talk openly and honestly with your doctor about how your illness will affect you at work, so they can give you the right advice.

You should also be open with your employer about what you can and can’t do at work. If you’re not, your employer may not provide the right support.

If your employer has an occupational health service, an occupational health advisor can give you advice about going back to work.

Read the answers to more questions about workplace health.

Further information:

Page last reviewed: 30/06/2014

Next review due: 29/09/2016