Do I need a doctor's certificate?

An employer who only pays you Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) cannot insist on a doctor's certificate (now known as a 'fit note') for the first seven days (counting the weekend) of a spell of sickness. Nor can he insist on being notified personally by you, as opposed to by a friend or relative, or on being contacted more than once a week. For the first seven days of illness, you must be allowed to 'self-certify', which means signing a form which your employer will give you on your first day back at work, confirming that you were too unwell to do your work and saying what was wrong with you.

However, employers who pay contractual sick pay that is better than SSP can, within reason, set out any rules they like for notifying them of your absence. It is important that you follow these rules. Otherwise you could risk disciplinary action and loss of sick pay.  These rules might include:

  • asking you to notify them in person on the first day of absence by a certain time; and
  • asking you to notify them again on the third day of absence (or even every day) until you provide a doctor's certificate.
Note: This content is provided as general background information and should not be taken as legal advice or financial advice for your particular situation. Make sure to get individual advice on your case from your union, a source on our free help page or an independent financial advisor before taking any action.