How long should you wait for a fit note?
When an employee is unfit for work and the period is expected to be longer than the self-certification period (seven calendar days) they should go to their GP and ask for a fit note. Doctors cannot issue fit notes during the first seven calendar days of sickness absence.
Problems often arise when employees are late in sending their fit note to their employers because this is technically unauthorised absence however you can’t withhold SSP for late medical evidence as this could be because your employee is unable to get an appointment with their doctor. You can withhold payment if there are any days for which you haven’t been notified, but not for late medical evidence. If you do not receive an employee’s fit note in a timely manner you should contact them to request this. If your employee continues to be absent without a fit note you can send a further letter to warn them that they may not be eligible to claim SSP without a valid fit note however caution is always advised when deciding to stop paying SSP.
As an employer, you can decide to stop paying SSP if your employee’s absence lasts longer than expected, but this should be applied with caution and you must explain your reasons to your employee within 7 days of your decision.
Contact with your employee is vital in this process and provided you attempt to make contact with your employee and can provide evidence of this, any failure from your employee to contact you and advise you of their absence and failure to comply with a reasonable management request may be dealt with as a disciplinary issue.