Ask Sheila England

Sheila will try to answer as many of your English Social Care questions as possible, giving priority to frequently asked questions and questions regarding current events and trends.

13th December 2016

Do I need a return to work letter from my consultant?

I work as a part time administrator at a Residential Care Home . Last week I slipped and fell at home, my husband called an ambulance and was taken to A&E. After numerous tests, x-rays and CT scan, I was placed under a consultant in TAC. They told me I have chipped a bone in my spine (area L4). I have to wear a back brace for 6 weeks and a follow up appointment will be sent. The home has told me to take a week off, no problem, but now I have to have a letter from the consultant, a risk assessment done as it is a 'Health & Safety' issue. The consultant asked if I worked, which I told him 'yes as a part time admin' and he did not give me a certificate. I telephoned the consultant yesterday - he was not in my hospital, but I spoke to his PA. She said there is no problem with me working as I am not a carer, where I would be lifting etc. I explained this to my manager but they are insistent that policy and procedures require a letter from the consultant and a risk assessment done. Can you help please?


Dear Lynn,


Thank you for your letter.


As this is a specialist question with legal implications I asked our colleague at Napthens Solicitors to comment and this is what they said:


“It’s standard practice for an employer in its policy to require a Fit Note for any absences of 7 days and over. The purpose of the Fit Note is to declare her fit for work which I believe is what the employer is seeking from her. I assume that this is the certificate that the employee is referring to. The employee does not have to seek this from the consultant; she can attend her GP and get a Fit Note to retrospectively cover her absence.


It is also a sensible suggestion that a risk assessment is carried out on any employee with a back injury even if their role is not a manual role. Sitting at a desk can place a strain on the back and an employer needs to ensure that it complies with its obligation to protect the health and safety of its staff.


I would advise that they seek clarification from the employer about what they mean by a “certificate”. If this is a Fit Note then the employee should make an appointment with their doctor and obtain a Fit Note. The employee should also allow the risk assessment to take place."


I hope this is helpful.


Best wishes.




*All information is correct at the time of publishing.

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Sheila Scott OBE from National Care Association (NCA). Care is Sheila’s life; she possesses a strong command of the issues facing the care sector informed by her long career as a nursing professional, the owner and manager of a care business and as a leader in the care sector.

Sheila will try to answer as many of your questions as possible, giving priority to frequently asked questions and questions regarding current events and trends.

Please note that Sheila can not offer answers to matters requiring legal advice. If your matter concerns a specific service provider, please contact the CQC.

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