Labour Research February 2020

Law Queries

Fit for work

Q. I have a fit note from my GP recommending reduced working hours because of a back problem that limits the length of time I can stay seated. It doesn’t run out for another three weeks, but I feel ready to go back to work full time. Do I have to get permission from my GP or can I just return to work?

A. A GP can’t issue you with a note stating you’re fit to work — only that you’re unfit to work, or that changes to your working conditions would allow you to do some work (the “fit note”). You therefore don’t need to go back to your GP. 

You can contact your employer to let them know you’re fully recovered and will be returning to work. They may seek assurances that you’re not returning to work sooner than you’re ready and may refer you to occupational health.

Once you’ve notified your employer that you’re willing and able to work full time, then unless there’s a specific term in your contract saying otherwise, they should pay you your normal wages because there’s an implied term in every employment contract requiring them to do so. This was confirmed in the case of Beveridge v KLM UK [2000} IRLR 765. 

This means you should be paid during any period they require you to wait for a meeting or occupational health report.