Statutory Sick Pay – Update on proposed new medical statements

Thursday, February 11th, 2010

In May 2009, the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) published a consultation document with proposals to replace the current “sick note” issued by doctors with a new Medical Statement.

The proposal was that the new form would be called a “Statement of fitness for work”.  It would allow doctor’s to indicate not simply whether a person is or is not fit for work, but also whether the person “may be fit for some work now”, in which case the doctor could also indicate that the person, with the employer’s agreement, might benefit from a phased return to work, or altered hours, or amended duties, or workplace adaptations.  The design of the proposed form was also included in the consultation document.

At the end of January 2010, the DWP published the Government’s response to the consultation exercise and announced the following amendments to the original proposals:

  • The use of the new Medical Statements will not be assessed by means of a pilot exercise as national consistency is needed to ensure everyone has the same access to entitlement of payments.  However, the Statement’s use will be evaluated by means of a research exercise, with the results to be published in 2012/13.
  • Responding to comments that it is the employer, not the doctor, who is best-placed to decide whether any changes are possible to facilitate a return to work, the advice given on the Statement will no longer include “you are fit for work” but will have just two statements: “you are not fit for work” and “you may be fit for work taking account of the following advice”, followed by four suggestions for the employer to consider.
  • The maximum duration for which a Medical Statement may be issued is reduced from six months to three months during the first six months of the person’s health condition.

The design of the new Medical Statement, as now proposed, is as shown below.  It is still intended that the new Statements will come into use from 6 April 2010

Further information:

Reforming the Medical Statement – Government response

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