How would you feel about seeing a GP via video chat on your smartphone to discuss your symptoms and get treatment?
Many people are already turning to these types of services, but what are the implications for employers?
Push Doctor is one such provider, connecting people to a network of GPs. With doctors available from 6am to 11pm every day, it offers flexibility and convenience. People can book appointments and talk to a GP within minutes about common ailments such as skin conditions, joint pains, colds and flu, stomach problems, pregnancy-related conditions and sexual health. During the consultation, doctors can give medical advice, issue prescriptions and provide Fit Notes. For a fee, all of this is offered at the push of a button and from the comfort of your own home.
How do they issue Fit Notes?
Push Doctor’s Fit Notes, which they call ‘Sick Notes’, can be sent by email or first class post. They include recommendations on when the employee can return to work and suggestions of what the employer can do to help the employee’s return to work.
But from an employer’s point of view, are these ‘Fit Notes’ legitimate?
Under Push Doctor’s terms and conditions, it makes clear that they are regulated by the Care Quality Commission and the doctors are registered with the UK General Medical Council. The doctors are NHS trained and work in NHS or private clinics or surgeries.
If employers are in doubt, Push Doctor provides employers with instructions on how to check the validity of the Fit Notes.
If you do have any concerns, we would urge you to undertake the verification process and subject to taking your Employment Law Adviser’s advice, consider requesting the employee’s consent to make further enquiries with the employee’s GP.
What are the rules on Fit Notes?
Remember that if an employee’s absence lasts up to seven days, the employee will need to provide a self-certificate of illness. If the absence lasts for more than seven days, the employee has a duty to provide a Statement of Fitness, known as a Fit Note, from their GP.
Fit Notes can either be handwritten or printed by a computer. Either way, they must be signed by a doctor – this could be your GP or hospital doctor. You should make a copy of the original Fit Note for sick pay purposes.
If you would like to discuss this matter further, speak to your Employment Law Adviser who can provide you with guidance and support.