Fit For Work Certificate

Fit For Work Certificates are issued after a period of 7 consecutive days of absence due to sickness

Fit For Work Certificates, also known as Med 3 or Medical Certificates, are required for Statutory Sick Pay purposes for employees who are either incapable of work or who may be fit for work with support from their employer. They are issued by a Doctor, or other registered health professional, for any period of absence after a period of seven consecutive calendar days of absence. The duty to provide Fit For Work Certificates, rests with the doctor who, at the time, has clinical responsibility for the patient. So, if a Hospital Consultant tells an employee that they should not return to work it is their responsibility to supply the employee with a Fit For Work Certificate.

This page was first published on 23 November 2018. The last update was on 24 June 2022.

UPDATE 14 March 2022
Digital Fit For Work Certificates Introduced

From 6 April 2022, the Government introduced legislation to implement digital Fit For Work Certificates. This means that Fit For Work Certificates no longer require a wet-ink signature from the Doctor.

Questions and Answers about Fit For Work Certificates

  1. Can a GP issue a duplicate Fit For Work Certificates to a patient who has two part time jobs?

    No. A GP can only issue a duplicate Fit For Work Certificates if the original certificate has been lost. They should clearly mark it “Duplicate”.

    Where an employee has more than one employer and they submit the original certificate to you, take a copy of the certificate and make a note of why you don’t have the original. Then return the original to the employee so they can then present the certificate to their second employer.

  2. Can healthcare professionals other than doctors give Fit For Work Certificates to patients?

    Yes. The Social Security (Medical Evidence) Regulations were updated on 1 July 2022 to allow a wider group of healthcare professionals to issue Fit For Work Certificates. This means occupational therapists, physiotherapists, nurses and pharmacists are now able to provide advice on fitness for work and sign and issue Fit For Work Certificates.

    Where the opinion of another healthcare professional, for example a dentist, would be of interest they would need to provide it in a format other than a Fit For Work Certificate. The statement should clearly identify the name, address and speciality of the practitioner.

  3. When can Fit For Work Certificates be backdated?

    Fit For Work Certificates can only be issued for a backdated period when it is based on a previous assessment.

    An assessment is defined as the date the patient either had a face-to-face consultation, a telephone consultation or considered a report from another doctor or registered healthcare professional. The GP can issue Fit For Work Certificates on or after this date, but not before.

    If there has not been a previous assessment, for example, if the employee has not been appropriately issued with a Fit For Work Certificate on discharge from hospital or at a previous consultation with another GP, the GP may write in the comment box of the certificate or in a separate letter provide advice that the patient was not fit for work for an earlier period. This is acceptable for Sick Pay purposes.

  4. If a hospital discharges a patient and advises them to refrain from work, should the hospital or the GP issue Fit For Work Certificates?

    The duty to provide Fit For Work Certificates rests with the doctor who has clinical responsibility for the patient at the time. Hospitals are required to provide all statements for Social Security and Statutory Sick Pay purposes and statements for both inpatients and outpatients who are incapable of work.

    Therefore, if a hospital doctor with clinical responsibility for the patient advises them to refrain from work it is appropriate for a member of that medical team to issue Fit For Work Certificates for this forward period.

  5. Can employers refuse to accept the advice a GP provides on a Fit For Work Certificate?

    Although employers have a liability to pay SSP to qualifying employees, it is up to the employer to decide in the first instance whether they accept that their employee is incapable of work. A doctor’s statement is usually strong evidence of incapacity and should normally be accepted as conclusive, unless there is evidence to the contrary, but the decision ultimately rests with the employer.

    If you have good reason to believe that the employee’s incapacity is not genuine, you can refuse to pay SSP despite having a Fit For Work Certificate. If the employee disagrees with the decision, they can ask the HMRC Disputes team in Newcastle for a formal decision on the matter. Alternatively, you can, with the employee’s consent, seek a report direct from the employee’s doctor or from Atos Healthcare’s Medical Services. HMRC have a contract with Atos Healthcare Medical Services to provide advice about employees’ incapacity for work in connection with SSP. They can also give medical advice when lengths of sick absence seem unreasonable or when an employee has several periods of short term absences. Further information can be found on the HMRC website.

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Fit For Work Certificate


Kathryn is a highly experienced HR Manager with a wealth of skills and knowledge acquired across a variety of industries including manufacturing, health and social care and financial services. She has worked in small localised business and larger multi sited organisations and is comfortable liaising with senior managers and union officials as well as answering queries from team members. Connect with Kathryn on:

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