Do you need a doctor's certificate in the first seven days of an illness?

You can sign yourself off for the first 7 days. In general, the Department of Health and Social Security, employers, doctors, and patients do not recommend that you attend your doctor for sickness certification alone.

For the first four days of any illness you do not require any form of certification. It is for you to decide if you are fit for work. For the next three days (including Saturdays and Sundays) you must fill in a self-certification form.

Your employer will have a form or you can print this one off to claim statutory sick pay.

After the first seven days you will need a doctors certificate and will have to attend the doctor to get a Department of Social Security sick note either a 'Med 3' or 'Med 5'.

Your GP is only required to issue a certificate in your absence from work through sickness that lasts more than seven days and will not issue one for before the 7 days

Private Sick notes

What are private sick notes, and do you need one?

  • Some employers or insurance schemes will ask you to provide a private sick note.
  • The surgery will charge you a fee to provide you with a private 'sick note'.
  • Sick notes are usually not necessary for the first week of any illness.

For employers

A patient at this practice, has advised us that you as an employer, require a medical certificate confirming a period of sickness causing their absence from work for less than seven days. In its guide to doctors, the DSS states that we are not expected to issue statements of incapacity to work for periods lasting seven days or less.

The employers guide to Statutory Sick Pay NI 227, confirms that "…you (the employer) are not entitled to ask for a doctors statement for the first seven days of a spell of sickness". At Compass House Medical Centres we strictly adhere to the DSS guidelines. The purpose of this regulation is to avoid the need for employees with minor self-limiting illness to have to use surgery appointments for the sole purpose of getting an unnecessary certificate. We do not therefore issue medical certificates in these circumstances.

For any periods of sickness lasting less than seven days, for which the employer requires certification, we can issue a private certificate. As this certificate is not required under law for statutory sick pay purposes we are entitled to make a charge for the provision of such certificates. Should you require such a certificate from your employee it would be issued only after payment of our fee.