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

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?

Sheila Scott
Answered by Sheila Scott


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.




About Sheila Scott

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. 3. Read more

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