It’s not the easiest time to be a business owner, what with staff shortages, inflation, cost of living, Brexit and Ukraine.

Which makes it the natural moment for the government to make your life even harder.

From next Friday, sick notes (officially Fit Notes) can be officially signed by registered nurses, occupational therapists, physiotherapists and pharmacists.

Gone are the days when only GPs that could sign them, making it pretty easy to work out if they were genuine.

Not only has the number of people who can sign a note gone up, but as you may have already noticed, as of April 1st this year, they’re now only digitally certified and not signed or stamped.

On one level, it makes sense – GPs are overwhelmed, and one could argue that certifying fit notes isn’t a good use of their time.

But what it has done is shift the onus onto you as an employer to make sure the documents aren’t counterfeit.

My fingers remain firmly crossed that more guidance will arrive on how we can ensure a note is genuine, but that has not been forthcoming so far.

It’s a sad state of affairs that we now have to check sick notes with the same scrutiny as we do right to work documentation, but that’s where we are.

After next Friday, if you get a sick note which is not from a GP, give us a call and we’ll help you work out whether it’s genuine, and what the criteria are to identify fakes going forward.

P.S. Oh, and we also found a website where you can get a sick note “for entertainment purposes”. We will buy one of these and see how different they are from the genuine article!

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