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Organisations should have a clear policy that supports their business objectives and culture, and explains the rights and obligations of employees when absent due to sickness. The law requires employers to provide staff with information on any terms and conditions relating to incapacity for work due to sickness or injury, including any provision for sick pay. 
The policy should: 
provide details of contractual sick pay terms and their relationship with statutory sick pay 
explain when and who employees should notify if they are not able to attend work 
include when (after how many days) employees need to fill in a self-certificate form 
contain details of when employees need to provide a fit note from their doctor 
explain how any review or trigger point system used by the employer operates 
say that the organisation reserves the right to require employees to attend an examination by a company doctor or occupational health professional and (with the individual's consent) to request a report from the employee’s doctor 
include provisions for return-to-work interviews 
explain that adjustments may be appropriate to assist the employee in returning to work as soon as is practicable 
give guidance on absence during major or adverse events (for example, snow, pandemics or popular sporting events such as the Olympic Games or World Cup). 
Fit notes 
In April 2010, the ‘fit note’ replaced the ‘sick note’, though the system is being reviewed – read the blog Is the fit note fit for purpose? 
When completing a fit note a doctor has the choice between two options: 
not fit for work 
may be fit for work. 
If the doctor selects ‘may be fit for work’, one of the following four options should also be selected: 
phased return to work 
amended duties 
altered hours 
workplace adaptations. 
The doctor then has the option to make any additional comments. 
Employers should arrange to meet with an employee who is assessed as ‘may be fit for work’ to discuss appropriate ways to manage the return-to-work process and support the employee by making adjustments. 
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