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Topic: Sickness absence

letter declining fit note recommendations
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Letter declining fit note recommendations


Letter declining fit note recommendations

Employers are not obliged to accept the advice set out in a fit note. Before taking any decision, however, you must discuss it with the employee. If you decide to reject it, your reasons should be set out in writing. Our letter declining fit note recommendations will help you here.

Under no obligation

Employers are under no obligation to accept the advice that a GP provides in a fit note. In fact, research shows that it is often impractical, or too expensive, to implement. This is usually because the medical practitioner who issued it has little, or no, understanding of your workplace or business sector. But provided you discuss the advice with the employee and consider all possible alternatives, you can safely reject it (subject to your duty to make reasonable workplace adjustments in respect of disabled employees). When doing so, you should ideally set out in writing the reasons for your decision.

Each case is individual but your decision could be based on one, or more, factors. For example, the workplace adaptation, or any alternatives may be:

  • prohibitively expensive
  • unworkable, e.g. homeworking has been suggested but your business doesn't and/or can't operate in this way
  • impracticable, e.g. your workplace can't be adapted in any way
  • detrimental to other staff, i.e. allowing somebody who is not fully fit back to work could be potentially harmful to their health and safety.

This list is not exhaustive and there may be many other reasons why you need to decline fit note recommendations.


Set out in writing 

When you reach this type of decision you can send the employee our Letter Declining Fit Note Recommendations which confirms the position. You will need to insert the relevant information, for example, when your discussions took place and the reasons why you are: (1) rejecting their GP's advice; and (2) unable to consider alternatives.

It then explains that the employee shall remain off sick until either:

  • the fit note expires
  • their GP's advice changes; or
  • acceptable workplace adaptations can be found and agreed.

Note. In some situations, it may be wise to enlist the help of an occupational health advisor. This shows that you have taken seriously the matter of workplace adjustments.

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