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In order to ease the pressure GPs are currently facing, pharmacists, nurses and other healthcare professionals will soon be given powers to issue sick notes. 

Under the proposed changes, patients will no longer need to see their doctor to be signed off work, which will free up time for GPs to focus on patients with more serious illnesses. It is not yet clear whether these reforms will apply to high street pharmacists, or just those within GP surgeries. 

The changes are set to come into force on 1 July this year, with Sajid Javid reportedly putting the proposed reformed legislation before parliament this week. 

Fit notes are provided after the first seven days of sickness absence. The doctor can decide if the patient is 'unfit for work' or 'may be fit for work'. GPs across the country issued millions of fit notes last year alone with the increased pressure of Covid-related absences and have been calling on the Government to change the law to relieve the administrative burden. 

Will this have an impact on employers?

It is unlikely that this will have a big effect on employers, as fit notes have been readily available from GPs. It could be that, if it is easier for patients to access fit notes, this might lead to longer periods of sickness absence. The finer details have not been provided and we expect more information in the coming weeks. We will update this article once parliament has provided further information.

Worried about changes in the law relating to sick notes?

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Helen Watson

Partner | Head of Employment Law


Helen has been Head of the Employment Team at Aaron and Partners LLP for over 16 years and is an experienced Tribunal Advocate, Accredited Mediator and Workplace Investigator. Helen is also a Chartered Director and Executive Boardroom Coach.

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