Knowsley Medical Centre

Sick certificates

How to get a Sick Note

If you’re off work sick for seven calendar days or fewer, your employer should not ask for medical evidence that you’ve been ill.

If you’re off work sick for more than seven days, your employer will usually ask you to provide proof that you’ve been ill. They will normally ask for a fit/Sick note. A fit/sick note is the informal name for the Statement of Fitness for Work.

The seven calendar days includes days that you don’t normally work. So when you work out how long you’ve been off sick, you should include weekends and bank holidays.

Sickness of seven days or fewer

Your employer can ask you to confirm that you’ve been ill. You can do this by filling in a form yourself when you return to work. This is called self-certification.

Self-certification forms

Self-certification forms usually include details such as:

  • information about your sickness or illness
  • the date your sickness started
  • the date your sickness ended

These dates may be days that you don’t normally work. For example, your sickness could start or end on a Saturday, Sunday or bank holiday.

Many employers have their own self-certification forms.

If your employer doesn’t have its own form, instead it may use an SC2 form from HM Revenue & Customs: Employee’s Statement of Sickness (PDF, 53kb).

Sickness of more than seven days

If you’re sick and off work for more than seven days, your employer will probably ask for proof of your illness. Most employers ask for a fit/sick note from the doctor responsible for the episode of care, this may be your hospital doctor but can be your GP.

However, this will also depend on your employer’s company policy on sick leave (or sickness absence). This policy should tell you how many days you can be off sick before you need to provide proof of illness or a fit note.

Fit notes and how to get one

A fit note must be signed by a doctor. On the fit note, your doctor can advise that:

  • you are ‘not fit for work’
  • you ‘may be fit for work’

For more information, including what ‘may be fit for work’ means, see What are fit notes?

If you need a fit note, contact the doctor responsible for the episode of care GP. They may advise you to make an appointment or book a telephone consultation.

Your doctor may give you a computer-completed fit note, rather than handwritten fit note. This will be printed on one side of A4 paper and will include the same information as handwritten fit notes, presented side by side rather than front and back.

Your doctor may still give you a handwritten fit note.

If you’re under the care of a hospital, your fit note should be issued by the hospital, rather than by your GP.


Charges for fit notes

Sick notes are free but there are some exceptions:

  • If employers request a fit note, for example, from employees who repeatedly take time off sick, even if each time they’re off work it’s for seven days or fewer.
  • For sickness of seven days or fewer, this would be private arrangement outside the NHS.


Date published: 8th October, 2014
Date last updated: 22nd June, 2020