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Fitness for work certificates are going digital

Big changes are afoot with respect to GP fitness for work certificates in an attempt to reduce pressure on GPs and simplify the process of reporting sickness absences and obtaining fit notes.  Since Wednesday of this week (6 April 2022), it is no longer a legal requirement for GPs to personally sign a fit note in ink as evidence of an employee’s sickness absence.  Instead, fit notes can be issued digitally. This is a practice which has started to become a common occurrence, of necessity, during the pandemic, albeit with GP signatures having to be inserted within them as per normal.  As part of this permanent change, a new form is being developed, which will facilitate authorisation in a different way.  Rather than being printed and signed, it will be possible for it to be authorised digitally, with the issuer’s name and profession being included within it electronically.  A patient will be able to receive it via digital channels, such as SMS, e-mail, or an App.  That being the case, going forwards, employees may well not receive a paper copy which they are able to hand in.  During the transitional period when the new template is being rolled out, the previous one can still be issued but it will need to be signed in writing, in order for it to be valid legally, whilst GPs update their systems.

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