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My Employer Wont Allow Me Back To Work Yet

GJT1 Community member Posts: 44 Connected
edited July 10 in Work and employment

I need advice, I am off sick currently with a shoulder injury pending xray results.
Im on my third sick note now starting from 11th June 2024. The sick note all say 'Not fit for work' .

My question is I work in a cafe kitchen, but my employer will not let me back at all and wont even consider amended duties or light work. Is this right?


  • Bydand
    Bydand Community member Posts: 135 Pioneering

    Not sure why you would think your employer should let you back when your doctor is specifically signing fit notes stating “not fit for work”. For liability purposes a good employer shouldn’t be letting you back as they have both a responsibility for the company and your health.

    You are obviously accepting the fit notes as “not fit for work” in the first place for this to be a problem….if you believe now that you are fit to return to work then get the doctor to sign you fit.

    The doctor can also sign you as being “might be fit for work” but this would be at the discretion of the employer as to whether they could accommodate any short term changes needed to have you return…ie the doctor might state on fit note that you might be able for work but recommends no heavy lifting due to your bad shoulder…..if this is workable to your employer then great, but if it’s not and your specific role needs you to be fit for heavy lifting then it is unlikely an employer would agree to your return or find it easy to do any reasonable adjustments.

    An employer does not have to make reasonable adjustments but must be able to show and evidence why they can’t.

    The doctor could also recommend fit for work but with a phased return etc but again this is at the employers discretion.

    See below from ACAS website.

    Fit notes when off sick

    A healthcare professional might say someone is not fit for work. They should say how long the fit note lasts.

    When the fit note runs out, the employee will either:

    • return to work, if they are well enough
    • get another fit note, if they need more time off

    While the employee is off, their employer should:

    Returning to work before the fit note runs out

    An employee can return to work before their fit note has run out, if they want to.

    However, they should make sure they're well enough. They could talk with their doctor about this.

    The employer should talk with the employee to make sure they're not putting their health at risk by returning early.

    Contact the Acas helpline

    If you have any questions about what to do with a fit note, you can contact the Acas helpline.

    Last reviewed15 August 2023PreviousGetting a fit note or self-certifyingNextMight be fit for workPrint this pageDownload this page - PDF documentDownload entire guide - PDF documentShare this page

    and the below is for

    Might be fit for work

    Fit notes when off sick

    A healthcare professional could say someone might be fit for work. They should explain in the fit note what they think the employee is able to do.

    They might say the employee is fit for work in general, but not for a specific task.

    For example, a factory employee with a back injury might be able to do light tasks, but not heavy lifting.

    The fit note might also say how the employer can help their employee get back to work. For example:

    • phased return to work where they might come back for a limited number of hours or days a week to start with
    • flexible working
    • giving them different duties
    • making changes to their workstation or working pattern

    What to do with fit note recommendations

    The employer should carefully consider any fit note recommendations. Putting those recommendations in place could help the person return to work quicker.

    If it's not possible for the employer to do anything that's recommended, the employee will become not fit for work. They do not need to get another fit note to show this.

    The employer can ask for a report from the employee's doctor to help them:

    • assess if the employee is fit to carry out their work
    • support their employee to return to work

    The employer must have the employee's permission to do this.

    The employer must put recommendations in place if they are reasonable adjustments for a disabled employee.

    Find out more about:

    If an employee is unhappy with how their fit note has been handled

    If an employee is unhappy with how their fit note has been handled, they should raise it with their employer.

    Contact the Acas helpline

    If you have any questions about fit note recommendations, you can contact the Acas helpline.

    Support for employers

    Employers and managers can get government guidance on supporting employees' health and disabilities.

    Find support with employee health and disability on GOV.UK

    Last reviewed15 August 2023PreviousNot fit for workNextWho to give a fit note toPrint this pageDownload this page - PDF documentDownload entire guide - PDF documentShare this page

    Hope this helps but Google search will bring up lots of info if not.

  • GJT1
    GJT1 Community member Posts: 44 Connected

    Thanks for the very informative answer to my post.

    I feel i can go back to work albeit with a bit of changes to my duties i.e no heavy lifting.

    My employer just isnt even considering anything to help me.

  • Bydand
    Bydand Community member Posts: 135 Pioneering

    Hi again

    I am only guessing but there must only be a few of you working in the cafe kitchen at any one time, ( or even just one of you) and if this is the case your employer might find it hard to make any reasonable adjustments within the scope of your particular role as I am sure that lifting and carrying is likely to be a part of what you do from time to time in an environment that will already have its own particular hazards.

    Your employer may not be in a position currently to help you as your fit notes continue to state “not fit for work” and by being off work as a result you yourself are basically agreeing with this.

    My advice if you want to return is have a frank discussion with doctor and employer explaining that you want to return to work but feel you accept that you are still not 100 percent fully fit….As I have mentioned in last reply, the doctor can add notes to a fit note giving brief recommendations which you can then approach your employer with… could be might be fit for work but with a recommendation of a 2 week phased return to assess how you get on etc….it may be your employer could look to accomodate this very short term whereas a longer period of adjustment may not be possible.

    An employer isn’t duty bound to accept any recommendations from a doctor or even occupational health, but they must seriously look at any request and explain in full to you if they believe that they cannot accommodate any reasonable adjustments.

    You also need to be honest with yourself too as the entire shoulder area is a complex site and can be very stubborn and resistant to recovery due to the fact that we need to move our shoulders daily just to carry out simple tasks….having a doctor telling you that you need to rest the shoulder isn’t always possible or helpful as life and work do need to be taken into account but a doctor and your employer should be willing to work with you to get the best outcome in the shortest possible timescale….Your employer would normally be expected to allow a reasonable amount of time for you to recover from your illness.

    I am no expert and maybe you will get some other advice on this forum, but what I have suggested is based on my own dealings with being long term ill before my ill health retirement and navigating the fit note procedures.

    Take it easy


  • Bydand
    Bydand Community member Posts: 135 Pioneering

    This maybe helpful as an overview of what I have said,,from Gov.ukThe fit note: guidance for patients and employees

    Updated 6 October 2023


    1. What is a fit note?
    2. 1. Fit note policy changes
    3. 2. When to consider a fit note
    4. 3. General rules of the fit note
    5. 4. Benefits of working
    6. 5. How your fitness for work will be assessed by a healthcare professional
    7. 6. Case studies
    8. 7. Further support
    9. More information on the fit note
    10. Important information

    Print this page

    What is a fit note?

    The Statement of Fitness for Work, commonly known as the ‘fit note’ or Med 3 form was introduced in 2010. The fit note can be issued following a health and work assessment by the healthcare professional, either a doctor, nurse, occupational therapist, pharmacist, or physiotherapist, who may be responsible for your care plan. The fit note will provide advice to you and your employer about the impact of your health condition, where that may have an effect on your fitness for work.

    The fit note is intended to support you stay in, or return to, work. It can also enable you to access health-related benefits or evidence eligibility for Statutory Sick Pay (SSP). You can use your fit note to support a claim to benefits. More information can be found on how to make a claim on the fit note itself, or on the benefits pages.

    1. Fit note policy changes

    1.1 In 2022, Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) implemented two significant changes to the fit note. A new version of the fit note was introduced to replace the signature in ink with the name and profession of the issuer, which means that you can receive your fit note through digital channels (where the local IT system support this).

    1.2 DWP have also enabled nurses, occupational therapists, pharmacists, and physiotherapists, in additions to doctors, to certify fit notes. This means you can receive a fit note from the healthcare professional treating you, for instance a physiotherapist, if it is appropriate for them to do so.

    1.3 Digital fit notes have been embedded within primary care settings (GP IT systems) and we are working towards making fit notes available within secondary care settings (hospitals) from later this year. In the interim, you may receive a pre-printed fit note form when you are discharged from hospital.

    2. When to consider a fit note

    2.1 If you are fit for work, you do not need a fit note. You also do not need one if you are off sick for 7 calendar days or less (including weekends and bank holidays), because you can self-certify your leave for this time – see guidance on employee’s statement of sickness to claim Statutory Sick Pay. If you need a fit note, contact the healthcare professional treating you. They will assess whether your health condition impacts on your ability to work and whether a fit note is required.

    2.2 You will not have to pay for a fit note if you have been ill for more than 7 calendar days, including weekends and bank holidays. If your employer requires medical evidence for the first 7 days of sickness absence, the healthcare professional may charge a fee, and this cost should be covered by the employer.

    3. General rules of the fit note

    3.1 The fit note is based on an assessment by a healthcare professional about their patient’s fitness for work. In order to complete a fit note, the healthcare professional can undertake an assessment, either through a face-to-face appointment, video call, telephone consultation or through considering a written report by another healthcare professional.

    3.2 Your healthcare professional will only give you a fit note if your health affects your fitness for work, they cannot give you a fit note stating that you are ‘fit for work.’ The fit note is classed as advice from your healthcare professional to help you and your employer discuss ways to support you to stay in, or return to, work.

    3.3 The length of a fit note will depend on healthcare professional’s clinical judgement, however in the first six months of your health condition, a fit note can only be issued for a maximum of three months at a time. A review date can be set, where applicable, to reassess your condition.

    For further information on each section of the fit note, see Fit note: Explaining the form for patients and employees.

    3.4 Healthcare professionals working in private practice or a private hospital that are not treating NHS patients may produce other forms of medical evidence, including private medical certificates or Allied Healthcare Professionals Work Report. These may be accepted by your employer as medical evidence in the same way as a fit note, but this would be subject to their agreement.

    3.5 It is important that you are not signposted to other healthcare professionals when discharged from a hospital setting purely for the purposes of certifying a fit note. The healthcare professional responsible for your discharge should be the one who issues the fit note if possible, and you should discuss this with them before you are discharged.

    3.6 Your healthcare professional cannot give you a fit note for non-medical problems (such as problems at home or relationship trouble at work). They may, however, be able to suggest other sources of help and support – some are listed in further support.

    3.7 Fit notes can be handwritten or computer-generated and can be printed or shared with you digitally. It must include the issuer’s name, profession, and the address of the medical practice. If your fit note does not include the issuer’s name or signature it is not valid and could be rejected by your employer or the DWP and you may be asked to obtain a new fit note. Duplicate fit notes can only be issued if the original has been lost. The fit note belongs to you. Your employer can take a copy, if they want one, for their records.

    3.8 If a healthcare professional has decided that you are not fit for work, this is evidence which an employer can accept as eligibility for SSP. If your employer does not pay you SSP, you can raise a dispute with HMRC. You may also wish to seek help from a trade union or ACAS (Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service) in such situations.

    3.9 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 expires. If you are receiving health-related benefit, then you can speak to your Jobcentre or work coach to discuss possible work opportunities. You do not need to go back to see your healthcare professional before going back to work.

    4. Benefits of working

    4.1 You do not always need to be 100% ‘fit’ to be able to do some work. Work can help your recovery from health problems or support your wellbeing if you have a long-term health condition. Research shows that work can be good for your physical and mental health, lowers the risk of experiencing financial difficulties, and improves your overall quality of life.

    4.2 Your healthcare professional is there to help you with your health. Healthcare professionals understand that work can be good for your health and will talk to you about what you can do and whether you could return to work without making your health worse.

    5. How your fitness for work will be assessed by a healthcare professional

    5.1 Your healthcare professional will not automatically assess that you are not fit for work if you have a health condition. They will think about your fitness for work in general rather than just for your current job. They will discuss with you how your health affects what you can do at work. If your healthcare professional does not ask you about how your health affects what you can do at work, you should raise the issue yourself.

    5.2 Your healthcare professional will assess your fitness for work by considering how your health condition affects what you can do at work (for example your stamina and concentration). They will decide whether you are fit for work, ‘may be fit for work’ or are ‘not fit for work.’

    5.3 Your healthcare professional will give you advice on the fit note about how your health affects what you can do at work. Make sure you discuss this with them and understand their advice, particularly as they will not automatically assess that you are not fit for work. They will consider your fitness for work in general instead of just thinking about your current job.

    5.4 If you have been assessed as ‘may be fit for work’ you and your employer will be provided with advice that may help you stay in, or return to, work. The healthcare professional may utilise the tick boxes on the form to indicate types of adaptation that you may benefit from. The tick boxes will relate to the functional effects of your health condition. This will give you an opportunity to discuss the advice with your employer to help you stay in, or return to, work. The options on the fit note form, along with some examples, are:

    • a phased return to work: a gradual increase in work duties or hours
    • altered hours: changes to the times or duration of work
    • amended duties: changing duties to take account of a health condition, such as no heavy lifting
    • workplace adaptations: changing aspects of the workplace, such as working from home

    5.5 These options are not binding on you, and you should feel free to discuss other options. You should discuss the advice from your healthcare professional with your employer, to see if they can make any changes to help you stay in, or return to, work.

    5.6 Your healthcare professional should use the comments box to give you more detailed advice about the impact of your condition on what you can do at work. It is helpful for your healthcare professional to give practical information, e.g., ‘should not drive, take regular breaks if using a display screen’ instead of simply ‘dry eyes.’ This gives you and your employer maximum flexibility to discuss ways to help you stay in, or return to, work. The information in the comment box is often very helpful for employers, so you should ask your healthcare professional to provide advice here, if possible, they should include details about how your condition affects what you can do at work, rather than simply a diagnosis or description of your symptoms.

    5.7 You should then look at the tick boxes and comment box for advice on what you can do at work, and how your employer could support you. You should check the duration on your fit note and whether you are expected to be fit for work when it expires. You should think of possible changes or workplace adjustments to help you stay in, or return to, work.

    5.8 If you have HIV, cancer, or multiple sclerosis you are automatically classed as disabled under the terms of the Equality Act from the 1st day of diagnosis. You will need to discuss your condition with your employer to seek ways to support you to stay in, or return to, work. See link for further information, Definition of disability under the Equality Act 2010

    5.9 You should discuss anything that you think would help you stay in, or return to, work with your employer, for example; arranging for an occupational health assessment, changing duties or location, phased return to work, working from home or additional training. These discussions are very important to support your health and wellbeing.

    5.10 Your local trade union representative may be able to help you with these discussions and may support you to prepare. We know that employers want to support their employees return to work and can often make changes to the workplace or job duties to help this. You and your employer should agree on regular keep in touch meetings during the workplace modification or reasonable adjustment period.

    5.11 Your healthcare professional might advise that you cannot do any kind of work. If this is the case, then you can show your employer the fit note to discuss any sick pay you may be entitled to. They can take a copy, but you should keep the original. You should keep in touch with your employer while you are unable to work, so that you are ready when it is time to return to work. You can get advice about sick pay see information about sick pay.

    Important: You can go back to work at any time you feel able to (including before the end of the fit note) without going back to see your healthcare professional, even if your healthcare professional has indicated that they need to assess you again.


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