Charlotte Davies

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Important New Rules for Fit Notes

Employment / 20 December 2021

The Statutory Sick Pay (Medical Evidence) Regulations 2021 (the “Regulations”) came into force on 17 December 2021.  Under these new Regulations, employees can self-certify sickness absence for up to 28 days.  Previously, they were only able to self-certify for up to seven days.  The new rule only applies, however, until 26 January 2022.

This means that, if an employee goes off sick between 10 December 2021 and 26 January 2022 (inclusive), you cannot ask them for proof of sickness until they have been off sick for 28 days or more.

However, there is a conflict between this rule and the Government’s “Statutory Sick Pay: employee fitness to work” guidance.  That guidance does not make it clear whether this new rule applies to situations where an employee is absent due to COVID-19.  If you follow one part of the guidance, an employer could still ask for proof after seven days if the absence is COVID-19 related – but another part implies that an employer cannot ask for proof of any illness until the new 28 day timeframe has passed.  Therefore, where the reason given for absence is COVID-19, employers will need to make a judgment call as to whether to ask employees for proof, and they can expect push back on this if they choose to do so.

The new rule and the conflicting guidance are likely to cause significant issues for HR teams dealing with the validity of sickness absences over the coming weeks.  If you need advice on this or any other employment issues, please get in touch with our team of experts.

Click here if you need advice on the new fit note rules.


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This update is for general purposes and guidance only and does not constitute legal or professional advice. You should seek legal advice before relying on its content. This update relates to the prevailing circumstances at the date of its original publication and may not have been updated to reflect subsequent developments. If you have general queries about our updates, please email:

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