You do not always have to be 100% "fit" to be able to do some work – in fact, work can help your recovery from health problems or support your overall wellbeing if you have a long-term health condition.
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.
For example, you may want to go back to work sooner if:
- you've recovered from your illness or injury more quickly than expected
- your employer can offer you support to help you return to work
Your employer's agreement
If you want to go back to work before the end date on your fit note you should discuss your return to work with your employer.
In some cases, your employer may not be able to agree to your early return. If this happens you should stay off work until the end date of your fit note.
For example this might happen if your employer is unable to make the required workplace adjustments. They will need to carry out a suitable risk assessment.
Your GP's advice
You should not go back to work before the end date on your fit note if your doctor has advised that you should stay off work for the full period covered by the fit note, and wants to see you again.
Do I need a note saying I'm fit for work?
You do not need to see your doctor again to be signed fit to go back to work.
The fit note does not have an option to say that you're fit for work. If your doctor wants to assess your fitness for work again, they will say this on your fit note.
Some employers have their own policy that requires employees to obtain medical evidence that they are fit for work. If this is the case, your employer should help you arrange this privately with a GP or occupational health specialist. A doctor cannot issue a fit note for this purpose.
Going back to work
You do not need to be fully fit to go back to work. For example:
- your employer may agree to make some changes to help you return
- if your health condition no longer affects your ability to do your normal duties, you may be able to return even though you've only partly recovered
Below are some examples of changes that your employer could consider:
- returning to work gradually – for example, by starting part-time
- working different hours temporarily
- doing different duties or tasks
- having other support to do your job, such as avoiding heavy lifting
Depending on your job, you may need to meet other requirements before you can return to work. For example, DVLA rules will apply if you drive:
- a large goods vehicle (LGV), such as a lorry
- a passenger-carrying vehicle (PCV), such as a bus
Read more on GOV.UK about driving with a disability or a health condition.
Your employer will tell you if special requirements apply to your job.
Free advice and support from Fit for Work
You can get free return to work advice and support from Fit for Work:
- the website offers information on work-related health issues
- you can chat online to a specialist adviser
- or you can speak to an advisor by calling 0800 032 6235
Further information :
Page last reviewed: 4 September 2016
Next review due: 4 September 2019