The government has confirmed that a new "fit note" will replace the current GP's sick note from 6 April 2010. Some changes have been made to the proposals following consultation. In particular, doctors will no longer be able to state that an employee is fit for work, as it is the employers' responsibility to carry out a risk assessment on the employee's return. Instead GPs can certify "not fit" or "may be fit for work taking account of the following advice", and may then select from a list of types of changes (eg to duties, hours, workplace) that would assist a return, or make their own suggestion. Fit notes can only be issued for up to three months during the first six months of illness.
The government intends to publish guidance for individuals, employers and GPs shortly. Its full response is available here.