Sickness Rights at Work: What to Do if Your Doctor Refuses Sick Leave

The government has recently said it may be considering a ‘crackdown’ on sick notes for employees, in an effort to boost the economy. This would effectively involve GPs across the country being told to sign off fewer people from work on the basis of illness.

In this article, we will cover:

  • When do you need a sick note?
  • What can you get a sick note for?
  • How long can a doctor give a sick note for?
  • How long can you be off work without a sick note?

To speak to an expert about your sickness at work rights, please call us on 01452 522047 or request a call back and we will contact you shortly.

When do you need a sick note?

If the period that you are absent from work due to sickness is greater than seven days, your employer will usually ask for a sick (fit) note, formally known as a Statement of Fitness for Work, from a healthcare professional. Fit notes are occasionally referred to as a medical statement, or a doctor’s note.

There are a number of healthcare professionals who are able to provide sick notes, and these are:

  • a GP or hospital doctor
  • a registered nurse
  • a pharmacist
  • an occupational therapist
  • a physiotherapist

In order to issue a sick note for you, the healthcare professional is required to carry out an assessment, and then advise that either you are ‘not fit for work’, or you ‘may be fit for work taking into account the following advice.

If you’re off work for less than seven days due to illness, your employer should not require evidence that you have been unwell. As an alternative, they will usually ask you to fill in a ‘self-certification’ form, which is essentially a confirmation that you have been ill.

A healthcare professional cannot charge you for a sick note if you have been off work due to illness for more than seven days. For absences of less than this, they may charge you a fee.

It’s also important to note that the seven day period is consecutive, and so includes weekends (even if you don’t work at weekends), or if you work part time.

To discuss your sickness rights at work, and to ask any further questions, you can always contact Tayntons Solicitors.

When Will You be given a Sick Note ?

There are many different reasons and situations for which a sick note may be issued. Your healthcare professional will assess your fitness to work and issue one as appropriate. They may deem you unfit for work, or alternatively, decide that you are able to do some work with extra support from your employer, for example, helping you to avoid any heavy lifting if you have a bad back.

Your healthcare professional will be able to advise you further as to whether you can get a sick note.

How long can a doctor give a sick note for?

A doctor or healthcare professional has wide  discretion when issuing a sick note, and consideration will always be given to the nature of the illness, its duration and affect on your life and ability to work. There is no one size fits all answer to this question – it very much depends on the circumstances.

How long can you be off work without a sick note?

You will need to provide a sick note to your employer if you are ill for more than seven consecutive days. For a period of less than this, you can self-certify by filling in a form when you return to work.

Contact our sickness at work rights solicitors in Gloucester

Do you need help with your sickness at work rights in Gloucester, Cheltenham, the Forest of Dean or across Gloucestershire? Here at Tayntons Solicitors, our friendly and helpful team is on hand to support and advise you every step of the way.

If your doctor or healthcare professional refuses to issue a sick note, Tayntons may be able to help you.

If you would like to discuss sickness at work rights in more detail, or if you have any questions or concerns about a current illness, or need help with another employment law issue, please feel free to call one of our expert solicitors today on 01452 522047 or request a call back and we will contact you shortly.

To contact us please call 0800 158 4147 or 03330 145451 or email

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