Employees buy fake ‘fit notes’ online

Whilst employers are adapting to the new “fit note” introduced in April 2010, a website has started selling fake versions of the new note. DoctorsNoteStore.com sells imitation certificates, which are stamped and written on official doctors’ letterhead for £9.99 (when last checked they were on a “buy one get one free” offer).  The website advertises the notes as “real looking fake doctors’ sick notes from all UK medical facilities”.

Although the website may claim that the certificates are for novelty purposes only, employers should take care when checking fit notes being used to claim sick pay.  Employers should treat employees who provide fake fit notes as potentially guilty of misconduct and deal with them under their disciplinary procedures.

Employees – do they read their employment contract?

Magazine Which? has recently surveyed 4,000 employees to find that 26% of them only skim read their employment contracts and 6% have not read them at all, putting them at risk of unfair treatment from their employers.  The survey also found that at least 2 million employees in the UK do not have an employment contract.

All employers, regardless of size, must issue a written statement containing the basic minimum particulars of employment required by section 1 of the Employment Rights Act 1996 within 2 months of an employee’s start date.  Whilst failure to do so is unlikely to result in a claim in itself, it would potentially cast the employer in a bad light in the event of a Tribunal claim.  In addition, if a Tribunal claim succeeds and there is no compliant statement, the Tribunal must award either 2 or 4 weeks’ pay as compensation for this failure.

Sarah Winter, Senior Solicitor