What is Self-Certification Sickness?

Amanda Beattie Amanda Beattie
blog-publish-date 08 September 2023

Unfortunately, when sickness absence occurs, there’s always a question of legitimacy. But you have the legal right to request staff to provide proof of their illness.

To manage sickness in your workplace, you should maintain a workplace sickness policy. This will explain to staff whether you use self-certification instead of a fit note.

You can call us on 0145 585 8132 if you need immediate assistance on this topic. Or you can read this guide for further details.

self certification sickness doesn't have to be awarded by healthcare professionals.

What is self-certification?

It’s a form you can ask an employee to complete to prove they were absent from work due to illness. It provides a short-term alternative to a sick note from a healthcare professional.

Self-certification is only available if the employee is off for seven days or less. If it’s longer, you can ask for a fit note from a GP or hospital doctor.

When can employees use self-certification?

Staff members can complete a self-certified form if they’re sick for 7 days or less. You can agree as to how you do this—by either filling in a form or sending an email.

Normally you’d ask an employee to fill this out when they return to work, to confirm they’ve been off sick but you can ask them to provide this once every day, or for a week-long block during the sickness.

Can employees use self-certification after seven days of sickness?

After seven days of absence, you can ask the staff member to provide medical evidence in the form of a fit note from a GP or hospital doctor.

They can no longer insist on only using a self-certification sick form. They will need a statement of fitness for work form.

The statement of fitness for work (or ‘fit note’) is the form that a doctor will provide your employees when their health affects their ability to work.

Statutory sick pay (SSP) and self-certification

To qualify for SSP, you must be off sick for four or more consecutive days. This is a period of incapacity for work.

All the days you are sick count towards these four days, including weekends and bank holidays, holidays and any other days when you would not normally expect to be working.

For the first seven days, the employee still needs to be required to provide a fit note to get SSP and they can then self-certify.  After this, they require a sick note.

Where can I get a self-certification form?

You can download an official HMRC sick note form free here: Employee’s statement of sickness (SC2).

Can I make my own self-certification form?

Yes. In some cases, creating a sickness self-certification form (self-cert) is beneficial.

You can personalise the form to fit with your business and industry. It can also make your records more professional.

Tracking absences is always a good practice for a business to undertake, so they can try and minimise absences in the future by making adjustments to the working environment.


Self-isolating is the best way to stop the spread of coronavirus. This means an employee won’t be able to come to work because of coronavirus-related self-isolation.

A member of staff will need to self-isolate for the following reasons:

  • Showing symptoms of coronavirus (high temperature, new continuous cough or a loss/change of sense of smell or taste).
  • Tested positive for coronavirus.
  • Live with someone who has tested positive or has symptoms.
  • Someone in your support bubble has tested positive or shows symptoms.
  • NHS Test and Trace has contacted you about being in contact with a person with coronavirus.

Employees must self-isolate for 10 days if they have shown symptoms and 14 days for testing positive, people near them have tested positive, or NHS Test and Trace are in contact with them.

An employee can get an isolation note from the NHS website.


Depending on travel arrangements, some of your employees may have to quarantine upon their return to the country. But do they still need to provide a sick note in the UK?

First of all, you need to determine whether the absence is due to illness or because they’ve returned from an “at-risk” country.

If they’re quarantining due to sickness, then follow the same rules for self-certification in the UK as normal.

If the quarantine is a result of returning from a particular country, you have a few options. You can explore what these options are in our article on managing staff in quarantine.

Sample self-certification sickness form

If you’re looking to create a personal sick note for your business, it’s better, to begin with a template. Luckily, you can download a free self-sick certificate form here.



About the Author

Amanda Beattie

Amanda represents corporate clients and large public bodies, including complex discrimination and whistleblowing claims. Amanda also drafts and delivers bespoke training regarding all aspects of employment law, including ‘mock tribunal’ events; in addition she also frequently drafts employment law articles for various publications for Croner and their clients.